Yay Team Coco!!!!!

Yay Team Coco!!!

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
–Anatole France

I’ve taken a little break from writing these past few weeks. The last couple of posts were prepared ahead of time in anticipation of knowing that a break in my life was just beyond my sight. And again, I was right. Sometimes things just go wrong no matter what all you attempt to do right. Not long after I had written the post, Her Name Is Marley, things would take a sharp turn south. Marley and I had been bonding and we were bonding tightly. She was cute, sweet, and cuddly. My days of having a sweet kitten in my life were many years overdue. She made my heart smile. But there was something hiding from me, Marley, and the doctors. Marley was sick in a way that I couldn’t love it out of her no matter how much we both wanted. Being sick with intestinal worms and low blood sugar were just symptoms of a much bigger issue. Within a two-week time period that was costly both emotionally and financially we were hit hard. And my little Marley was in the fight for her life.
I couldn’t have asked for more of a very caring staff from the local veterinary office. Marley, more than once, would lay almost lifeless in my arms while the tears streamed down my face hoping that my breaking heart would somehow fix the issues at hand. I could hear the concern in each one of the staff’s voice every time, I would call to check on her. Then suddenly, she appeared like nothing was wrong. She was also about half the size of a normal kitten her age. Within a couple of days, she was in the condition of being nearly dead. The cycle was gut wrenching and incredibly tiring. More than once I was up all night with Marley providing care and just making sure she would make it through the night. But she was miserable from her daily fight for life.

As a pet owner, your mind and heart can make you question humane treatment versus a sometimes-selfish want to keep your animal alive. I had finally come to the time when I asked the doctors, “How much do I need to continue to put her through?” They wanted to take her home to observe her condition closer before giving me any kind of answer. For the weekend, she went home with them and I took my concern and exhausted mind and body to bed for a little respite care. And as the cycle would again repeat itself. Fluids, glucose, and other medications were just prolonging the inevitable and they saw it as well. Marley’s condition would never be ok. I was told that she had a condition with her liver that would never get better. I took my broken heart and prepared myself to be without her. I remember little about those last couple of days. I was truly heartbroken and didn’t want another animal. I just didn’t think that my heart could bare to love another kitten or puppy of any kind. My connection with Marley had been deep and I didn’t want to feel that ever again.

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The universe and my coach seemed to see how much I need the unconditional love like the kind freely given to us by animals. Somehow, they both seemed to try convincing and push me emotionally into just giving the idea some consideration. I was mad at them both. I resigned myself to the thought but decided that I would not actively look for a kitten. If I were to reconnect, a kitten would just have to show up in my life. And that’s exactly what happened.

A litter of kittens had been found under a house and the momma cat had been shot and killed. A good Samaritan took the kittens to the vet and they were looking for homes. There was only one female and she would be mine. I couldn’t believe how big she was. She was normal size for a healthy kitten. Nevertheless, she seemed to pick up right where Marley’s love left off. It took her a couple of days to realize that she could safely be a kitten around me. And it took me a couple of days to realize that she would love me if I would let her.

One of the issues I have is allowing others to love me. The many years of abuse and love demonstrated the wrong way has caused me to put up emotional walls around my heart. I’ve found that love coming from some people has conditions. And what I’ve needed for many years is to be shown and taught the concept of love after abuse. And this little kitten that I fought so hard to not find appears to be just what the therapist ordered. For me, the connection with animals has always been easier and safer than the connection with people.
The first hurdle in our relationship was to give her a name that was meant for her. I watched her for a few days while also searching through lists of names. A 5-year-old alter kept shouting her obligatory pleas to watch one of her favorite children movies by Disney. And the title that also allowed her to keep part of a connection with Albuquerque and the Hispanic culture was Coco. This little kitten seems to look like a Coco to me. I have battle wounds from our many hours of playing. And my heart bares the pawprints for every minute she’s loved me through my tears and wounds that are and are not seen.
Every therapy session she’s close to me and usually sleeping at my feet with her paws touching my foot. She seems to understand that her job is to be by my side when my many tears fall. And so far, her daily work opportunities have been plentiful. As my heart continues to heal and the growing pains continue to hurt, we continue to be a dynamic duo. The pieces of my puzzling life are still being found.
#thispuzzledlife

I Am The Problem And The Solution

I Am The Problem And The Solution

“Dana, if you would get out of your own way, you could accomplish anything.”
—Sarah Pardue

One of the topics that keeps my stomach in knot is how I am both the problem and the solution of my own life. I can be the solution for my trauma. But I can also stand in my own way as the problem. Anytime I give into my addictive behaviors I have become my own problem. I will take and destroy anything that I work so hard for because of this. Things that I hold sacred I will unknowingly destroy because I feel that I’m not worthy of good things. I am also the solution to the problem of fixing anything that comes before me. This I have proven time and time again. I have both the knowledge and the power to change anything unhealthy. I just must dig deep and pull out all the teachings and reverse not give into what seems to be maladaptively comforting at the time.

What I must do is to reverse the messages that were taught to me through abuse. And stand up face-to-face with it and say, “today I choose to live differently.” And make the change better. I haves versus how I live which is to breakdown and give into that train of thought. I deserve better and want better. I have worked hard to be who I am and deserve a better life of constant abuse that I continually replay through my own behavior.

Invictus

Therefore, I chose the topic that I am the solution and the problem. Sarah and Coach have both taught me that I can’t give away what I don’t have. If I keep giving my recovery away or interfering in the process of changing, then how do I expect to be healthy and pay it forward by giving it away to someone else who I might meet that is also struggling. The choice is up to me. Not, Sarah’s teachings nor Coach’s current teachings. I treasure them all. So, the greatest give that could give them both is to see me overcome these old ways of thinking that were engrained in my thinking by perpetrators. I will be the solution even through tears and a heavy heart at times. Remember…. I’m the comeback kid.

In closing I can say that if I can ever turn around and have a positive self-image and love myself, as much as, other people love me, I will accomplish great things. Maybe my writing will help and maybe it won’t. But loving oneself is not something that happens overnight. It takes continually telling myself that I AM worthy of great things.

#thispuzzledlife

 

Clouds (poetry)

Clouds (Poetry)
Have you ever laid on your back and stared at the sky?
And watch the clouds and sometimes wonder why?
People move around in a similar way
With purpose that move with little to say.
Pay attention to someone’s silence
It says more and they’re not necessarily violent
Quiet might be how they live their life
Without asking, you can see the resemblance of a similar life
They walk and you never see their eyes
Nor do you ever hear their silent cries
For the similarities you just might see
When I lay back and watch the clouds before me.
#thispuzzledlife

The Tomb And The Phoenix

The Tomb and The Phoenix

4.5.2015

“You have seen my decent. Now watch my rising.”

—Rumi

As cliché as this analogy might seem on Easter Sunday, it also holds big meaning for me in my own recovery from trauma.  I have made it very clear that I’m not a big ‘religious’ person per se. However, I do have a belief system.  I’m just not one that wears my spiritual beliefs on my sleeves any more than I flaunt my education.  Everyone has a spiritual belief system even if one says they don’t have one, which in itself is a belief.  Anyway, moving on….

One thing I’ve always understood is that psychology and religion more often than not, DO NOT agree on much.  Throw in a little Greek mythology and you’ve got a ‘hot mess’ for discussion for those with a closed mind.  I encourage you to have an open mind as I attempt to make a comparison/analogy from the standpoint of someone recovering from trauma.  I am in no way trying to offend anyone, as I respect that everyone has their own beliefs.  This blog always has been and always will be about ME and MY family’s journey.  If you find yourself starting to get somewhat annoyed, please refer back to paragraph #2.

open tomb

artist: Shannon Renshaw

As I think about Easter Sunday and what it has meant and still means for many, I want to attempt to describe to you where exactly I am and how I believe this morning as I continue to face my trauma.  As a child, I remember having Easter baskets left by the Easter bunny the night before in our living room for us to find first thing Sunday morning.  Ironically, I always seemed to get the same kind of candy and knick-knacks year after year.  I think the Easter bunny must’ve had some kind of secret ‘happiness meter’ that was used every year.  So…..”Easter bunny mom” remembered that gold brick eggs, Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Easter colored M&M’s became the norm in my basket. The night before, as a family, we would usually be dyeing eggs and watching the movie Jesus of Nazareth.  This is still one of my favorite classics old as it may be.  So this morning, I wait for our little 3 foot tall cuteness to awake and see what the Easter bunny brought him last night.

As an adult, the foundations of beliefs are the same but have a slightly different twist in a way that makes complete sense to me.  The question is….”Do I believe in the Holy Trinity and the Resurrection?”  My answer is undeniably yes.  There’s not a traumatic event in my lifetime that can come close to destroying that belief for me.  I was taught this at a very young age and is something that I still hold on to.  I don’t flaunt this because I feel that this is very personal for each person.  I also do not try and change anyone else’s beliefs.  Once again, I’m spiritual not religious so, my beliefs are somewhat different and are not exactly popular back in the ‘Bible Belt’ of the Deep South.  Oh, don’t get it bent, I have ‘beef’ with God for things that have happened to me as I’m sure most people who believe in God have also had at some point in their own lives.

After 2014 and the beginning of 2015, I have really had to do some ‘soul searching’ on several different levels.  Having lost numerous friends and family this past year in a variety of ways can lead to, somewhat, deep thinking at times.  Losing Sarah while subsequently leaving a void in my heart has really brought back a lot of memories of things she use to tell me.  One thing that has always stood out that she told me was, “Dana, you can’t give what you don’t have.”  This, my friends and family, is why I continue to stay on this very difficult and very frightening journey.

The Phoenix, in Greek mythology, was a bird that arose from the ashes of darkness.  Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix was later adopted as a symbol in early Christianity. While the phoenix typically dies by fire in most versions of the legend, there are less popular versions of the myth in which the mythical bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again.

Phoenix

On Easter Sunday the representation of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave is celebrated.  While this is important to me, so is the representation of the phoenix.  I personally feel that I will, in time, also begin my own rise from the depths of trauma and despair.  While in the midst of traumatic flashbacks, memories, migraines and all the other symptoms that come along with a lifetime of abuse, it’s very difficult to keep this in perspective.  Some days, all I want to do is just lie down and die.  I often wonder why I keep trying when my efforts seem futile sometimes.

I can say that the love that Sarah and other people have had and continue to have for me in this time when I’m unable to love myself, somehow, has become a motivation tactic.  That’s not to say that I don’t get tired and life doesn’t continue to beat us up.  Coach Nick Kolinsky always taught me to NEVER give up until the game is over.  And well…..the game is nowhere near being over.  I know how to survive only one way, when I get knocked down, I get back up.  That’s how I made it through my abuse and that’s how I’ll recover from my abuse.

Sarah would often times remind me, “Dana, you didn’t become maladaptive over night.  You’ve had years of perfecting this.  Likewise, you won’t recover overnight. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.”  Yes, there were some 12-Step influences in her thoughts.  That was exactly who she was.  She would always help keep things in perspective for me.  She was also one of the few that I actually would listen to.  Oh, how I love and miss the special ways that she managed to get through the tough outer covering of my thick skull.

As my painful and gut wrenching recovery continues, I have the warmth of her words to guide and comfort me.  That’s not to say that I wouldn’t give everything I have to be able to consult her one more time.  My tears for her loss continue to flow even now. Sometimes, I have to imagine what she would say to me if we did have that one last conversation.  And this is what I believe she would say…”Dana, my child, pick yourself up and continue to move forward in every way possible.  There are people that are in your life both physically and spiritually to guide you through this process. You are going through changes which are part of recovery.  This process has never been easy for anyone and you’re not the exception.  I will always be with you as I have always been. Do the work and rise to be the great therapist that I know you can be.”

And with that….off to work I continue to go.

#Thispuzzledlife

I Don’t Belong (Poetry)

I Don’t Belong
In a place where I have friends, I don’t belong.
In a place where I have family, I don’t belong
In a place where there’s love,
I don’t belong.
In a place where I have freedom,
I don’t belong.
In a place where I have beautiful children,
I don’t belong.
There is life where I hold tightly to living
There is always someone giving
There are always differences
I’m not like others
Differences that some might see
Frustrations that have me clinging to life
I try to hold out for 2 boys and a wife
So hard I fight what others can’t see
The many parts of me
The hope that I held for so long
In a world where I don’t belong.
#thispuzzledlife

Wounded Healers

Wounded Healers

“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”
—Rick Warren

Psychologist Carl Jung created the term Wounded Healer. The idea says that a person is compelled to treat patients because he himself is wounded. The essence of the idea is said that going through our wound that we can allow ourselves to be recreated by the wound. Our wound is one that is continually unfolding through a process that reveals itself to us and thereby teaching us about ourselves. Going through our wound and realizing that we will never be the same again once we reach the other side, we then come out the other side where empowerment is born. This process is completely different than going around our wound. And this process requires actively engaging ourselves. This process also is potentially creating a new transformation. This transformation essentially has us changing from the “old” self into the “new” self (awakeninthedream.com)

The wounded healer only becomes able to help others, while continuing to do work on ourselves again and again, when instead of feeling victimized we can see that wound as an event and as a part of a more spiritual moment. And then we can see how our own suffering within ourselves, is reflected to the outer world in a way that helps alleviate suffering in both worlds (awakeninthedream.com).

wounded healers

What an incredible way to explain the healing process with reciprocal healing. I tried to make this a little bit easier to understand. I think that anyone who chooses to work in a helping profession, is on some level, looking to heal their own self maybe even subconsciously. The helping professions that I worked in were the medical and counseling professions. Maybe I, too, was subconsciously looking to help heal my own self. My dear Sarah used to tell me, “Dana, you can’t give what you don’t have.” What she was saying was that until I have my own trauma dealt with that, I couldn’t help others with theirs. And this has proven to be true. I want to help others so bad because I went through those professions. But my own trauma, after ignoring it for so many years, came along and broke my back. Maybe writing is how I’ll be able to help others. Maybe through speaking I’ll be able to help others. I don’t really know what path my life will take. But which ever way it happens is also one that I’ll embrace to the fullest.

I have worked with the homeless and addiction communities enough to know that that is where I belong. I have been blessed with the ability to see people for who they are and allow them to be individuals no matter what that may look like. I have seen and worked in some areas of lives and the country that would make some people shiver in fear. I never look down my nose at anyone because I understand where I’ve also been and the struggles within my own life. I have been, at times, unable to care for myself and smelling like last week’s garbage because I wasn’t able to muster the energy to get out of bed and take a shower. I have also been so caught up in addiction that my arm, legs and ankles were at the other end of a needle.

Most people see me as a fun-loving comedian that’s easy to be around. What they don’t see are the constant struggles of holding onto life just to make it another day. I’m so incredibly grateful to have had Sarah in my life for 15 years. The wisdom she shared with me and lessons she taught me are sometimes the only thing that seem to get me through the day.

Coach stepped in at a time when the term “struggle” was putting it mildly. She has also seen me fighting and struggling for the next minute. I now learn from her. The universe has made it possible and directed me, almost 4 years ago, in her direction. I am now her student and one day I hope to be seen as a “Wounded Healer.”
#thispuzzledlife

PTSD (Poetry)

PTSD (Poetry)
You wake me up to show me things that haunt me;
You don’t care who you hurt even with crying pleas
Slowly you take me to another place and time;
And honestly you should be charged with a horrible crime.

You visit me all day and all night long;
Can’t you see that I did nothing wrong?
Flashing of pictures stuck in my head;
No wonder so many people end up dead.

You don’t care and you hit my psyche with precision
Just another wound causing an incision;
But you’re persistent if only people could see;
You’re a killer of a disorder called PTSD
#thispuzzledlife

No One Heard Me (Poetry)

No One Heard Me (Poetry)

As a child no one heard me
As a teen no one heard me
As an adult no one heard me
I was loud with my voice
And no one heard me

I had wounds and scars
And no one heard me
I felt the heat of a bullet
And no one heard me

Their big hands hurt me
And no one heard me
My silent screams
And no one heard me

Holes in the doors and walls
And no one heard me
Who will cry for the little girl?
And no one heard me

#thispuzzledlife

Finding Me

Finding Me (Poetry)

The pain of laughter that everyone sees

The person before you is not really me

The funnier I am, the more pain I’m in

Maybe it’s wrong or some terrible sin.

I loved living life until these terrible days.

Now I live in a trauma filled haze.

Keeping those secrets has eaten a hole.

I’m no longer me but rather a shattered soul.

Most days I’m scared and can’t think

And to get through this life I feel I must have paper and ink

That tiny little town, the memories and secrets are held. 

It not Southern Comfort but a type of burning hell.

Friends and family from a time I once knew

Happy-go-lucky and not dark grey and blue.

The days I was carefree I was happy and nice

And if she asked me again, I wouldn’t think twice.

Two boys that are precious I wish I could hear

Held close to my heart because they are dear.

Far behind the smiles in pictures they just can’t see

How I hang on for dear life while I try to find me.

#thispuzzledlife

Safe Place (Poetry)

Safe Place
A place that has no hurt and no pain
A place where I can go without emotional rain.
A place where the sun shines all day long
A place that could easily become a home

A place where I can hide from things that are bad
A place where I can go and never be sad.
A place where I run to where the monsters can’t see
A place that allows me to be me.

A place where I go when I’m not wearing masks
A place that I go and no one else asks
A place where I can go for my own soul’s sake
A place where I go that’s always safe.

#thispuzzledlife

Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday To Me

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. “
—-William Barclay

Today is my birthday and a day that I haven’t really celebrated since I was young. My birthday has always been representative to me of the day that I was put up for adoption and given away because I was unwanted. And after meeting my birth mom several years ago the fear of being unwanted at birth became a reality. That was exactly what she told me. I didn’t receive the explanation from her that she was young and couldn’t take care of me. She very coldly told me, “You were an inconvenience in my life and you still are.” I don’t know how cold the chill was that went over me the day she spoke those words. But it was cold enough to chill my soul.
I’m not afraid to admit that this has been a very painful part of my life for a very long time. And in many ways, I have allowed her reality to control my thoughts and actions about myself for many years. And then I met Coach who through unwavering compassion has taught me differently. She saw the open wounds of those awful words and graciously began helping to promote healing.
What coach has taught me is that I wasn’t an inconvenience to anyone but her. The beauty of living in a free nation is that not all our realities have to match, nor do we all have to agree. She also taught me that my self-worth should never be determined by a woman who didn’t have the capability to love me anyway. I have two wonderful parents who love me and have done nothing but support me my entire life.

celebrate life

 

Today, I’m happy to say that December 4th is a day that should be celebrated. I am a good person who loves people and loves to be love by both family and friends. Life has not been easy, but the trauma doesn’t control me any longer. My birthday means that God was gracious enough to breathe life into me for me to make my mark on this earth the best way that I can. I have a family and two beautiful little boys that call me mom that love me. And I also have friends spread across the country that love me and want nothing but the best for me. And I have a “system” that does their best to help keep me functioning in new ways that we’ve learned the last two years. They are a special group that I depend on to help keep me going and loving me enough to keep me safe in every single way.

Now December the 4th isn’t a day where people are prevented but rather embraced for wishing me a happy birthday. Today I smile instead of frowning and staying locked behind doors. There’s nothing like getting to share birthday time with my oldest son Marshall. And, today is a day where God is thanked for the breath of life that made me. And for my birth mom, she is silently thanked for being the vehicle by which I enter the world. These days of being grateful have changed my view on many things. I am grateful to God, the universe, friends, family and others I’ve not yet met for being a part of my journey. Because the day that someone is born is a day when life changes for anyone, they meet in ways we may never know. I say with all the happiness in my heart…” Happy Birthday to ME!!!!!”
#thispuzzledlife

My Parts And Change

My Parts And Change

“DID is about survival! As more people begin to appreciate this concept, individuals with DID will start to feel less as though they have to hide in shame. DID develops as a response to extreme trauma that occurs at an early age and usually over an extended period of time.”
― Deborah Bray Haddock, The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook

I don’t know why I’ve decided to write another blog so soon. Maybe it’s because I’m so eager to get back home that the loneliness of this room has taken its toll. But maybe it’s also because my parts are talking so loudly about the upcoming change that it’s hard to do anything else. I still hold true to my beliefs about the benefits of my two years of hard work and the spirituality that I hold near and dear. But to ignore what my parts are saying would go against everything I’ve learned. So, I’ve decided to give this some attention.
My child parts are like typical children. They’re excited to know that they will be able to play with Marshall and Copeland soon. They look forward to being around them again and to once again. And a certain little 5-year-old looks forward to being able to play with her chap sticks that have carefully been sent back home at an earlier date. They also long for a parent’s love to help ease the scariness of this new change.
My teenagers have a menagerie of emotions like most teens. Some are ready to go NOW and are having a hard time with patience. They all look forward to this scary but new life and experiences. My once loud and aggressive protector is the one who is surprisingly calm during this time of stress. She has always been the one no one could get close to. But through healing she has become one that knows her place and realizes that everything isn’t about a fight. The kid that she is longs for someone to simply hold and support her while this change happens. She’s not afraid to admit that she’s scared. But she also knows that she’s still one of the backbones of strength and courage in my system. Instead of being a part of aggression she has found and made peace with her trauma and now works with us all instead of causing chaos. She has become one of the hardest working parts in relation to recovery. And she holds tightly the words of our dear Sarah close to her heart.

you survived

She was hands down the loudest but most damaged alter I have. Her loyalty to our coach and our system is comes from a place that’s admirable and loveable. And I must admit that having her working with us for several months now is something that makes my heart leap for joy. Her heart is open and healed and has become one of my parts that I couldn’t live without. She one that has brought about the most change and has remained open to love, peace and happiness. My part that is her direct opposite and wise beyond her years is still strong with positivity. Very simply put she brings light to the darkness. The desires of her heart I won’t share but peace from within is what she exudes.
My athlete and student are parts that keep us all going. Having the respect for our dear coach they both repeat the phrase, “Stay the course and trust coach. She hasn’t led us astray yet and we need her right now. We trust her because she’s proven trustworthy. Listen and follow her guidance because she will help lead us home safely.” And I must admit that writing keeps “the student” occupied.
A few of my adult parts looks forward to helping Mel raise the boys. They also bring about nurturing and grace on a daily basis. They look forward to being role models for my children that will help me to be the mother I need to be. I have other desires of my heart but none more important than the ones that foster my being able to take care of myself instead of having to be taken care of. I look forward to being able to take care of myself instead of being trapped within myself and frozen with fear.
All these parts make up me, Dana Landrum-Arnold. I’m proud of who I am now and what I can become as a person in the future. My heart longs for many different things. And I’ll admit that I’m very nervous. But when I look back on the days of Texas, I can say that it has been the most rewarding and difficult time of my life. I have worked harder for this resolution of my trauma then anything else. The scars of my story are evident on my arms and my heart. But the peace I’ve fought so hard for is written all over my face and heart as well. I now see myself as one who has discipline, courage, strength and love to share with anyone who will accept it. I am a good person who a set of individuals tried to destroy a little at a time. What I was blessed with was several parts of myself who fought my battles and took care of me for many years regardless of how maladaptive the behaviors were. And now I’ve grown to the point that it’s time that I take care of them and my responsibilities as Dana. They helped me to survive and now I will help them to thrive. My name is Dana Landrum-Arnold and I have a story to tell.
#thispuzzledlife

Angelica (poetry)

Angelica

She was still one that no one wanted around

Being kicked aside she was found

But no one had know her job

For she stepped up and sobbed

She was treated like property and chained like a dog

Submissive she was but she drew the short straw

Some would label her as an outgoing whoreface.

And she would have a scarlet letter she always wore

No one chose to get to know her only a label assigned

But she would soon get a new name designed

Her name would be Angelica and all she needed was grace.

For this would be the new name for her delicate and child-like face

#thispuzzledlife

Freedom In My Eyes (poetry)

You start a war on your hands and knees

Crying and begging for help shouting PLEASE!

There were days were I was tired and sore

And even more days I could do nothing but crawl on the floor.

But that floor was my lonely highway of healing

Not knowing if I would live through the work because it was so grueling

I was getting some much needed schooling

But hope and determination powered me forward

And the daily work sometimes leaving me scarred

This time I was still leading a team you see

Because the athlete would activate the wolf in me

I was changing into something I would need

But this time it would be the real and authentic me

Coach was guiding me to a beautiful life

Working hard once again to be a mom and a wife

This time I look in the mirror I don’t see tears

For the first time in many years

There are no screams or cries

Because this time I see freedom in my eyes.

The Wooden Door (Poetry)

The Wooden Door

You met me as an innocent child
If only for a little while
But even a little was too much
Because behind you is where I learned the meaning of
The word…. crutch.

Twist and turn my mind you did
Until that kid ran and hid
But you awakened that angry child
The one who would live life running wild.

Behind you is where the secrets lived
Because I couldn’t hang around to see what you did
She protected me from things I didn’t want to know
She took all the pain and it would show.

Red, purple and eventually white
That’s the colors of her painful stripes
Your evil would once again score
All behind that wooden door.
#thispuzzledlife

What If No Really Meant No

What If NO Really Meant NO

“So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was—and am—innocent.” The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis”
― Ellen Bass, The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

There are things in my life t;hat I continue to hide under a bush away from the light. Mostly because it’s embarrassing to deal with. The sexual abuse I endured has affected my life in ways that I can’t seem to find words for. In my early 40’s I should be in my sexual prime. But instead I sit here getting nauseous at just discussing the topic. My first sexual experience was around the age of 5 years old which is incredibly too young to know anything about that side of life. It terrified me when it happened not once but several times. I hear their words and can still feel them touching me. I still hear the words whispered in my ear. It all burns so bad in my soul that I can smell my charred remains.
Where this is something that I’ve left covered and protected I’m also not healing in this area of my life. I have run until there’s no where else to run to. It’s time to turn around and face it. Coach has proven herself time and time again that she’s trustworthy of this information. Now it’s my time to allow my trust in her to do it’s job.

protect me

Sex for many years has been a taboo topic that most people shy away from unless poking fun. But, even as an adult I was violated aggressively by a person that was supposed to protect and cherish me…….my husband. Instead, however, fear and pain were shown. I allowed him to do things to me that I was against personally and saying, “NO” just made things worse. So, I reluctantly went along as his submissive with total disregard for how I felt.

Me and my alters don’t understand how this process is supposed to feel and be in a loving way uninhibited by young and adult alters who are terrified of being a part of a process that is meant to be one defined by the words “precious and sacred.” I have often said that I “let” people do to me sexually what they wanted. When, in fact, I was saying NO and being told what would happen if I didn’t allow it. So, silently I would lay still hoping and praying that whatever was being done would end quickly.

By the time I met Mel sex to me was a horrible amd very scary word. But, the damage had already been done. The nausea I now couldn’t control which ruined the experience time and time again. The only thing that seemed to save me what the ability to float away. What I did was leave alters in my place further scaring and traumatizing them. No matter how many times I tried this process became automatic. And now one of the most intimate areas of my life has lead to a life of hibernation rather than fulfillment. I didn’t “LET” anyone do anything. They took my pride, self-confidence and humanity. Which leads me to ponder the question, “What would life had been like if No actually meant NO?”

#thispuzzledlife

What IF?

What If……

“What” and “If” are to words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together Side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for
The rest of your life.”
—Unknown

These are two words that haunt me day in and day out. I think “what if” I had never tasted abuse in any kind of way. “What if” I had never crossed paths with likewise hurt individuals who decided to keep the cycle of abuse going? “What if” my career had never ended? “What if” I had never been exposed sexually in ways that make me wretch at just the thought? What if I had never met Sarah? What if I was never was able to be privileged enough to call myself a parent? What if? What if? What if?!!!!!!
Recently, coach has asked me to think about a few things. How am I exhibiting behavior showing that I’m still a victim and still under the control of my perpetrators? This is a very loaded question. Every day I seem to allow myself to be chained to a past that wants me more than I want it. However, I’m an addict in ever since of the definition and word. I still struggle with eating and self-harm issues. Every meal I skip, every time I purge and every time I engage in any kind of maladaptive behavior, I am still being their prisoner.

change the world

Do I consciously want to remain there’s? Hell no. The addict in me still wants the comfort of the blades and the pain as justification for what they did and for mistakes I have made. God how sick does that sound? These behaviors are what have always been there for me. With them I’ve never been lonely. I gain absolutely nothing more than additional isolation by staying chained to them so why do it?
So now I sit and ponder what life could be like IF I wasn’t still their victim? The only way to look at that is the direct opposite to how I feel living now. I would be one that lived life with passion. Life would be such a gift. I wouldn’t be living life scared and tortured by my memories and feelings. I could live life enjoying being around my wife and children. I would simply be an active member of society instead of a prisoner of my past.
I still have a lot of hurdles to overcome and self-harm in many different forms are behaviors that still stick with me. When the adults ganged up on me? My razors were there. When I was raped repeatedly. My razors were there. When I was put on display to be made fun of a belittled….my razors were there. I get up every morning just to try again. So, if I continue to engage in addictive behaviors and thinking I’ll remain their slave…BUT WHAT IF?
#thispuzzledlife

The Heart of a Comeback Kid

The Heart of a Comeback Kid

“My comeback was not about winning or losing; it was about the feeling
of being able to compete at top level again.”
—Thomas Muster

I’ve said many times that as an athlete I wasn’t coached to lose. So, losing for me has never been a viable option. In this battle for life losing is still not an option. What is a reality is how tired one can become of fighting for that number in the win column. Giving up is not what I’ve done or what I’m doing.
When I was playing ball, I was always pushed beyond my limits both physically and mentally. Some of this I would do on my own and some would inevitably come from my coaches. Either way this is not an area that’s foreign to me. Truly, I have become quite tired of fighting, but I won’t give up. I have said from the beginning that I’ll win or die trying. I know no other way to view a battle.
I’m not only fighting the demons that I was given. I’m also fighting demons that I’ve created. Years of aggression and not knowing the proper way to overcome things has led me to relying on my own recognizance. This means that inevitably I chose many different things and ways of coping that were and are still not healthy.

I’m currently taking an online class about self-sabotage and recognizing the ways in which I do this in all areas of my life. This might be the only thing I’m doing right currently. But what I am learning to do is to slowly begin to let those things and people that hurt me go. It’s very difficult to free yourself of the chains that bind you. Most of the time we wait for our “jailer” to come prancing towards us with the keys to free us. However, when it comes to dealing with trauma the process is quite different. We must free ourselves as a hostage therefore making it possible to not hold others hostage with a death grip because of fear. I’m doing the best that I can, but I still seem to lose my footing at times.

success

For me the fear is about not having something to catch me if I fall. I have always had a behavior or a chemical close by to help with this. Now, however, I’m attempting to eliminate not one but all of swords that I’ve previously used as power against myself and others. I have used these swords as a means of survival and have managed to cut just about everyone out of my life including myself. I have used all types of therapeutic assignments to aid in this healing. There are those extremely painful events that I want to handle personally with individuals. But this being a situation where the ability to handle it personally is being diminished has let me straight into a state of panic and at times rage. Trying to contain the rage and the intense feelings of disappointment are what I’m trying to soothe by holding on to my destructive ways.

I know what it’s like to be in the position of being captain of a team. I know that other teammates look to me for both guidance and direction. Having a mental illness like Dissociative Identity Disorder assures me that I have other teammates that are looking up to me in this way. They are children, impulsive teenagers and very hurt adults. And, yes, there is one who is “The Athlete.”

This athlete is the one who knows how to set a goal and how to block everything out but that goal while also maintaining the safety of other teammates. The athlete is the one that manages to pick me up and dust me off while saying, “Shake it off. I know it hurts but we have to keep going.” This athlete will also do ANYTHING to make sure the goal is achieved even if it’s harmful to oneself. The goal is to win. She is also a teenager/adult who will protect her own but sometimes her tunnel vision ends up harming those that seem to get in the way of that goal. She is also having to learn how to win in healthy ways.

Combined I am one hell of a person that loves people and loves to win. I won’t settle for 2nd place as this is 1st place loser. And in the game of life 2nd place is also not an option for me. So, I say this…when you look in your review mirror and see someone swerving and appearing to be crashing just remember that I have the heart of a comeback kid. I’ll be waiting on you at the finish line.

“Making a comeback is one of the most difficult things to do with dignity.”
Greg Lake

#thispuzzledlife

Cunning, Baffling and Extremely Powerful

Cunning, Baffling and Extremely Powerful

“Addiction is committing suicide on the installment plan.”
–Anonymous

In the year 2019, I feel confident in saying that most people and families have been affected by addiction in some way. Whether it be a family member, close friends or possible yourself who has been touched in one way or another by this terrible and very progressive disease. Personally, I’ve seen addiction run through the lives of many families and individuals leaving a path of destruction that Hurricane Katrina herself couldn’t hold a candle against. And addictions of various kind continue to devastate both my mind and body.

Often people relate addiction to only chemicals be it drugs or alcohol. A lot of times it is the assumption that physical dependence compounded by withdrawal symptoms is required for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction disorder. With chemical addiction this is true. In behavioral addictions i.e. gambling, sex, shopping, internet, self-harm, workaholism, etc. the behavior also progresses until negative consequences occur as well. Specific process addictions, in my life, are anorexia, bulimia and self-harm. I’m sure there are others but currently these are my biggest and most destructive. Where the mentioned behaviors are and have been a problem since childhood.

the abyss

Education about addictions, in general, has come quite far from the days of the Temperance Movement specifically due to alcohol consumption of the early 19th century. Stigmas have lessened since then. However, process addictions still have a pretty heavy stigma attached to them due to pure ignorance. One of the things that I do that keeps me sick in my disease is my uncanny ability to minimize any and all addictive behaviors that I engage in. I can tell that I have nerve damage in my forearms from 30+ years of cutting them with razor blades. My left shoulder has nerve damage from a self-inflicted gunshot wound several years ago. My internal systems have no telling what wrong with them from all the years of purging and heavy restricting by starving my body and ridding it of food.
Other behaviors that are considered an addiction for me are shopping, huffing chemicals and using belts to play “The Choking Game” until I pass out. All the addictions mentioned are ones that can individually kill me at any point. I will minimize them to justify to myself another reason to do it again just like any drug addict or alcoholic. I will come up with any reason to engage in these behaviors just to be able to get through a moment of uncomfortable feelings. I truly do my best trying to cope with all these things, but coach won’t let me slide unlike my internal addict that justifies yet another reason to keep going.

I have struggled many years and have kept my addiction alive. No matter the reason, there is always at time and a number that has my name written on it when it will be my last. It’s almost like dodging bullets knowing that one has your name on it. I wish I had a healthy fear of these behaviors, but I don’t. I fear the uncomfortable feelings and visions more than I fear dying from addiction. Each day I pray and yearn for the day that I’ll be able to live life without such horrible feelings. Who knows? Maybe the life I have dreams about being a part of could one day be possible if I would just get out of my own way.

“Every habit he’s ever had is still there in his body, lying dormant like flowers in the desert.”
—-Margaret Atwood

#thispuzzledlife

Her Winds Still Blow

Her Winds Still Blow

“You can take the people out of the city, but you can’t take the soul — that remains here.”
― T.J. Fisher, Orleans Embrace with The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carré

As the official opening day of hurricane season June 1st every year, I can’t help but to remember the wide path of destruction left by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. Anyone who went through that storm, no matter the location has my deepest sympathies. I also went through that storm and not a day goes by that I don’t remember how scared and awestruck I was at the devastation. Last night I was awakened by a horrible nightmare complete with an ass kicking migraine. I woke up with nausea and last night’s meal gurgling in my stomach. I was also chilled by the sweat on my brow and clothing attempting to dry.
I couldn’t help that I had just had a nightmare, but the vividness of the dream was one that startled me. Hurricane Katrina happened before Mel and I met. I was still married to my ex-husband at the time. And I also can remember my nannie still being her good ole grouchy self. We had a gas grill and each other and that was about all we needed unless you counted the need for air-conditioning. I’m a spoiled kid of the 1980’s and I grew up with air conditioning and desperately need it when it’s hot. People including my mother were sleeping in the beds of pickup trucks rather than in the house because you stuck to everything because of the heat. I slept on the hot wooden floor in the dining room and my 85 years old grandmother and would’ve been sleeping in Heaven with Jesus sooner had it been left up to my mom. My grandmother was being a pill, and everyone heard her. She And her chihuahua were soon taken to a friend who made sure she got in the air conditioning and away from us for a while. Meanwhile for the first few days everyone was eating out of each other’s freezers as the defrosting led to some good eating.

katrina satellite

There were 5 big trees on my parent’s house that were casualties of the storm. Water and sewage were a thing of the past. Gas was being rationed. And how the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans, Louisiana was doing was a mystery. It was the time when hardship let to sitting under the carport at night with sweat running down the side of our heads and swatting mosquitos and laughing to keep from crying. We knew the devastation in our neighborhood and town and that was all.
What we did learn through all of this was how to help our neighbors. When anyone mentions pulling together resources for something the time when Katrina hit the southern United States always comes to mind. I eventually got to see the hardcore destruction firsthand when I was helping to publish a book by doing some photography from the destruction. But emotionally I was affected in ways that even I don’t know. Exactly 14 years ago today Hurricane Katrina would change life for many people including myself. Because being awaken by a nightmare and a migraine let’s me know that her winds still blow.

“Life is a hurricane, and we board up to save what we can and bow low to the earth to crouch in that small space above the dirt where the wind will not reach.”
–Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped

#thispuzzledlife

Perfectly….Imperfect

Perfectly…Imperfect

“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
—Brene Brown

Sometimes “ah-ha” or “lightbulb moments” seem to come from out of thin air. You don’t question them. You sit and chew on them, if you have the time, until you’re able to digest what happened or what was realized. Lately, I’ve been bothered by why I care so much about others’ opinions of me. Maybe I was just wanting to find out how and why my humor seems to be attractive to people. If you think I’m tooting my own horn, let me assure you that’s not what’s happening here.

I’ve been sitting and wondering also why I have been tossed about and “unsettled” with my internal guys. I’ve really been working hard on realizing how painful and harmful my self-sabotage. Maybe I just ran into this while searching for answers. The toxic emotion that drives a lot, if not all, my self-sabotaging is fear and shame. Well what is it that I fear? Literally…. most everything. But one of the things that I fear the most is people leaving however that might look. I also have seemed to attach other people’s opinions they may or may not have about me to the worthiness of myself as a human being. That’s insane kind of thinking if you look at it. Growing up in small town U.S.A. that’s all that did matter. But the belief was so engrained in my belief system that if someone didn’t like me, I have felt useless. I remember this from the time I was very young. And then as a blossoming teenager looking for a place to belong, if I was funny, I didn’t have to fit into one group, I was accepted most anywhere and any group. The problem is that overtime if I wasn’t liked by someone the belief has been that I’m a failure with a heartbeat. When the reality is that people don’t give two squirts of cat pee what or how I’m doing.

jackass whisperer

You would think as much as I crave alone time that I would enjoy being alone. The truth is that I hate it. I was always a social butterfly. If there were 100 people to socialize with then I wondered why there wasn’t 101. Over the years I bought into some pretty horrible and crippling beliefs that have altered my life. With Coach’s help we also looked at how this belief system was influenced by my adoption. Low and Behold, I’m wanting something that I’ll never have….my birth mom’s love and approval for just being alive. When I met her there was nothing there between us and that hurt tremendously. My heart yearns and cries for her approval. I realized yesterday that I have attached people’s perceived opinions of me to my self-worth. But what hit me like a ton of bricks was when I said, “She didn’t have the capacity to love me. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person. I AM WORTHY OF LOVE AND HEALTH RELATIONSHIPS. AND NO ONE PERSON’S OPINION OF ME DEMINISHES MY WORTH AS A HUMAN BEING. What they think of me is not my any of my concern.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that the realization cures anything. But I think being able to say this with a good Brene Brown quote near by is closer to believing it. It’s not that I haven’t toyed with the idea at some point. I’m just simply….perfectly imperfect. My heart felt it yesterday and by then end I’d call that one hell of a session. Thanks, Coach!!!!

“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.”
–Brene Brown

#thispuzzledlife

Confucius Says…

Confucius Says….

Ok so it’s difficult to find quotes about fortune cookies that are better just called stale cookies. I have mostly used them as entertainment to amuse myself. Anyway, since moving to Texas I’ve begun to keep my fortunes from the cookie which my alters all seem to need. What makes a cookie more delicious than having an expiration date of 1994, a slip of paper with a random fortune that will never come true and some fake lottery numbers. I haven’t found a number yet that was as lucky and a random set of keys to a brand-new house showed up in the mail for me.

I have several fortunes saved. Nowhere near as many times as I’ve gone to eat sushi and left there feeling like a frenzy feeding sharks on Shark Week. But some of the fortunes have by paranoia alarms going off and alters running for cover. When some of the phrases sound like Brene Brown wrote it that’s when a philosophical conversation breaks out. Yep, I have a head full of sporadic philosophical geniuses. And let’s face it, I’ve been a little too serious and emotional lately.

IMG_2046

The alters’ that love the fortune cookies the most are the ones that lay close to 1980’s music and culture. They also like to read them in the voice of Mr. Miyagi for added effect. My favorite fortune cookie must be the one pictured because we were all caught off guard at the thought of sleeping cookies. They’re so stale that they are more like “dead cookies.” I’m telling you that most people who live alone are literally alone. Not me…. I’ve got want-to-be comedians going all day long entertaining any and every one that I come in contact with.

It’s times like these when I wish that I could be silly with Marshall and Copeland playing and acting silly. Even they know that we play when momma can play because the swing always goes the other way. I try to take things as they come like if I was given the opportunity to duck I wouldn’t. Geez…. really universe? So, I don’t just write lighthearted blogs to help you. I do it to help me and to deal with life as it comes. I take some dark and lonely roads sometimes and get lost trying to get out. She said, “It will be worth it. Not easy.”
#thispuzzledlife

Once Again

Once Again
7.30.19
I laugh a lot, but no one sees
How much these visions torment me?
Fight as I may, I have yet to win
Screaming loudly, “No! Not Again!”

God might frown but the devil smiles
He knows his influence on this broken child.
Forward I still go but no one sees
My limping, hurting and the pain that pushes me.

How do I succeed whilst in his mouth of flames?
I’ve tried and tried with very little gain
Can’t anyone plainly see?
How my demons are killing me?

I say, “Yes!” and they say, “No!
We will beat this crazy and very useless ho.
But try as I may spilling heartbroken tears;
All this happening year-after-year.

Prayers are spoken but no one sees
This desperate girl inside me begging Please!!!
To help me stop this destructive path
How many more times can I survive their wrath?

The people who help have grown weary as well.
How can I continue to drag them through my personal hell?
All the while I silently scream, “help but don’t leave!”
The message is constant “Then let us help you please!”
I don’t know how to let you love me and teach me knew things
Please let me be the puppet on a string.

I listen and try the best that I can
Can I start over and learn to let people love me again?
Answers unknown and fears cover my heart
Can I possibly let you mold me like a beautiful piece of art?

This little girl desperately wants to live
But how much more can I take and are you still willing to give?
I’m not greedy and want everything from you.
God, the universe, The Great Spirit says I’m not through.

Don’t give up as everyone has and I apologize for
being such a hardheaded jackass.
Compassionate and caring more than anyone has ever been
Please try drilling through my thick skull once again.

By: Dana Landrum-Arnold
#thispuzzledlife

Realization of Life

Realization of Life
7.30.19
Oh how I want to die
And stop living every day as a lie
Using the masks so no one can see
Letting them see anything and anyone but me.

Behaviors and chemicals have helped with the pain
But now they do nothing with little to gain
Nothing more than an evil monkey on my back
Just waiting for the final day that I’ll crack.

Living life on the outside is how it seems
But on the inside it’s a nightmarish dream
Protection they give me and protection I’ve had
Why then do I fell so incredibly bad?

Wanting to die is all I recall
Planning daily for my final fall
Because pain this bad all I want is for it to end.
Not even wanting to share this with a friend.

But I talk to “my guys: to see if this is what they really want.
As the days creep closer the reality begins to haunt.
All we want is to end all the painful strife
Because our realization is all we want is a pain free life.

By: Dana Landrum-Arnold
#thispuzzledlife

These Beautiful Walls

These Beautiful Walls
8.3.19
Some people see what others can’t see
These beautiful walls that keep me safe from me.
People think this is where we come to hide
But this is where I find members of a “trauma tribe.”

We are people who have been through more than most.
And more than not several of us have a host.
For we have seen and been a part of the evils of life.
And for us it has caused lots of strife.

We have fingers and we have toes
But with that comes many woes
Listen to me as I begin to close
We come here beaten down and come to
recognize ourselves as heroes.

By: Dana Landrum-Arnold
#thispuzzledlife

Lessons From A Squirrel

Lessons From A Squirrel

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though.
That’s the problem.”
― A.A. Milne

Today when I got home from therapy I went immediately to the patio and sat like I often do. I was looking and listening for movement that I could watch while half-heartedly searching eBay and trying to decompress from the latest session with coach. I began to hear a popping sound that I begin looking for the origin. I look up and one lonely and might I say hungry squirrel was sitting and eating the kernels off the corncob that I had thrown out into the yard. Apparently, like most other humans and animals the heat has drawn us mostly indoors except to go to the grocery store which this little squirrel was certainly doing to the best of its ability.

As I watch closely, I start to see a similarity between the way he eats and the way I eat. Animals, being part of a food chain, instinctively watch for predators as a way of survival. We, on the other hand, can fix our own food and sit and eat with or without company. I’ll take a little bit of food and feverishly try to get the pieces of food eaten before anyone notices. I will also build forts out of menus to give me privacy if eating in public or I’ll just leave.

animals

This squirrel was simply eating because it knows that it needs fuel for survival. It doesn’t care who’s watching it eat if you’re not a predator. And trust me, the backyard wildlife DO NOT fear me even though I’m considered a predator. They somehow seem to know that all they’ll get from me is Pandora songs and singing. They’ve become so comfortable with me, in fact, that when I go out on the patio sometimes, I have a visitor sprawled out on its belly looking at me like it’s on “The Biggest Loser” desperately wanting a snack.
I look at this little squirrel and say, “Do you have eating disorders too?” It raises its head as if to listen and then calmly lays its head back down.

The squirrel just simply wants more food without another thought about how it’s eating or who’s watching and what I might be thinking. I, too, long for the day that I can eat a meal to enjoy it for its flavors and the feeling of being satisfied without feeling the want and need to purge as a way of self-sabotaging my health. Until then I’ll continue to fight these ugly eating disorders and the horrible words and actions that caused them to form. I, as a human being, have the right to enjoy food and the action of eating without any torment. And I will make it happen because I don’t want to live my life as a squirrel or any other animal waiting for someone or something to attack it.

“Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”
—Unknown
#thispuzzledlife

Answer The Question

Answer the Question

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
—-Anonymous

Have you ever been so far down that the only way to look is up? I have recently begun to do just that. I’ll tell you a story about a man who was a very traumatized man from many years of abuse. He was fearsome and that power propelled him through most of his life. All along he kept living his life the way he wanted to and maintaining a life of chaos, guilt and shame. Slowly, over the years his pace wasn’t as quick. Even his facial features began changing into someone much older. His heart was growing weary of life as well as his desire for life.
Sun meadow

He was met by an angel that pointed him in the direction and said you will meet a man on your journey answer his question. You need him. “Do not leave this road or you’ll have more chaos,” the angel said. The man agreed and headed in that direction. Slowly the man started trying to take shortcuts to “feel better” along the hard and very painful road. And like the angel said his life became more chaotic until his whole self was lost in a world of self-loathing, depression and a hurt internal self. By the time he and the man met he was bruised and cut up from just making it there. He thought everyone had thrown him away because he thought and behaved differently.
He fell in every hole in the sideways and roads just barely able to pull himself out of the last hole. His internal drive for life was completely diminished. His facial features were indicative of a hard life. He had “battle wounds” all over his body stating that he was fighting a war. He looked at the stranger and said, “I’m supposed to answer a question. By the way, what is your name?” The stranger said, “My name is RECOVERY.” The now excited buy quickly told the stranger, “I need recovery. Will you help me?” The question you must answer for me is, “Do you want me?”
#thispuzzledlife

I Matter Now (Poetry)

I Matter Now
You forced me to listen and now it’s my time.
Your abuse has made me feel like I can’t be real in life.
You destroyed parts of me that once thrived
And you sucked me into your grasp by being very kind.

Once everyone was gone you made your first move.
Showing me the side of a human that most have to prove.
You dehumanized me in so many ways
Until I’ve learned to live life mostly in a haze.

But your days are over, and my days are here.
Oh, and the truth that everyone can hear.
About your venomous actions forced on children, teens and adults.
All you can do is sit back and sulk.

I won’t be sad because you hurt me so
But what you shoved into the ground has begun to grow.
With growth you need water and those are my tears I shed.
While I try to undo everything, you convinced me of in my head.

I went to everyone looking for help
And it made it all worse and you hurt me more until I yelped
I didn’t know it then because I was just a kid
Because I matter now, and you never ever did.

#thispuzzledlife

Through The Eyes Of A Child (poetry)

Through The Eyes Of A Child

We Started our lives tiny and cold
Bright lights and loud noises only a few days old
We would have two mommies and the world to see.
One of our mommies would come with an extra scoop
of “special” the one called Momma D.

We know that you love us and most of the time you’re fun
But momma you scare us when you talk about guns.
Your scars we would notice and excuses we would hear
We saw the blood on the floor and your
yelling would hurt our little ears.

Momma Mel cried a lot and things you said weren’t nice.
You had expressions that scared us because your heart seemed cold as ice.
We didn’t know who had hurt you

because we didn’t understand your tears

But we did understand on word and that one word was…FEAR.

We were both born into this world for you to teach us and to guard
Why does this concept seem to be so hard?
Many times, we ran to you because kids get scared.
But the one we looked to for protection, only her body was there.

As a child we need protecting and that’s your job to do.
If you had looking into your own eyes would you
Know who was looking back at you?
One minute you were our mommy acting like a funny clown
But a lot of the time you wore a big frown.

We don’t know what they did and we’re still too young to know.
The big, scary figure we just wanted it to go.
We know you didn’t mean it but if you could only see.
That the people that hurt you were now hurting me.

If you could only understand how much we love you and
Know that our love is free
We are not the ones that hurt you, momma, open your eyes,
break down those walls and see.
Our names are Marshall and Copeland we are ages 7 and 3.
Please momma get help and be who we need you to be.

We are separated for now because there’s work that needs to be done.
And at the end of this time we will still be your loving sons.
But at the end we will proudly say, “Look at Momma D now and the person
She has become!”

You’re setting for us an example about how we should live
The ones that look up to you are two little kids.
And once day your tears will be nothing but smiles
Because you learned many lessons through the eyes of
Of a child.
#thispuzzledlife

“Hey Pot. This Is Kettle.”

“Hey Pot, This Is Kettle”

“I decry the injustice of my wounds, only to look down and see that I am holding a smoking gun in one hand and a fistful of ammunition in the other.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

One thing that most people will tell you about me is that it’s hard to have any kind of a relationship with me unless you have thick skin or can separate behavior from the truth. Why is this? Well, I can only say what I believe to be the truth. I most often self-sabotage relationships in order to keep from getting hurt. This doesn’t mean that the person I sabotage the relationship with did anything wrong. Sounds odd? Trust me it is.
So much of my life has been about wearing masks that being on the hunt for my authentic self is proving very difficult. Everything about relationships scares me. I fear people leaving and/or dying. And I also fear people hurting me. Not so surprising if you take note of my trauma history. Confusing for me and other people yes. What makes me angry is that before all the chaos in my life began relationships held very high priority for me. They were never replaceable. The relationship that I had with that person was as individual as they are.

When this sabotaging happens it’s because I’ve gotten scared. Either the person has seen someone other than “the clown.” When people begin to see me as someone other than that friend they like to hang out with and laugh I get very scared. Because in my experience those that see the nice side of me first might leave me at the first sign of trouble. I fear judgement. And I fear their rejection if they don’t like the truth. So, instead of just waiting to see the outcome, I control the outcome.

pot calling kettle black

I had good relationships at one that that once they saw the effects of abuse on me, they run. Once they’ve seen the scars, been around my extremely intense mood shifts and paranoia they leave. As a result, I bought into the belief that “I wasn’t worthy of good relationships because everyone leaves eventually.” This in turn adds fuel to the fire of self-hatred and my self-harm escalates. Next relationship the cycle continues until you get tired of the painful emotional toll that it takes, and you become a prisoner of to your home to keep from having contact with people out of fears. I then sabotaging through self-harm and isolation further worsening my condition. This then leads to more depression and anxiety and lack of social stimulation. Therefore, anytime I try to be around other people, in public, the overstimulation is just too much because I live a rather bland existence.

This is something that coach and I face with me. Not to mention the scared alters always paranoid and looking for danger at any turn. But I continue to work towards a more permanent solution so that I can keep meaning relationships in the future. First, I must get used to being in public around people and all the different verbal and visual stimulation of everyday life. Fingers and toes crossed that this goes well. I can promise you that I win the “Most Harded” award every year.  Not something to brag about but always true.  I always chuckle when I tell someone that they’re being hardheaded. Their response, “Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” All I can say, “Why yes, it is.”
#thispuzzledlife

The Girl In The Closet (Poetry)

The Girl In The Closet

Enjoying school and playing sports
Dripping with sweat on shirts and shorts.
A dollar bill would be burning a hole in my pocket
She was only a number, but she was also the girl in the closet.

Most knew her name but not her number
She made them laugh even before Tumblr
The teacher never smiled, and we never knew why
Was someone mean to her? Did they make her cry?
The evilness she shot through her eyes made them want to vomit
She was only a number the girl in the closet.

The clown she was in those days
That happiness quickly became dark, ugly hate.
That closet was to teach me lessons.
And lessons it did…I learned how to drink, take pills, cut on my arms and put on gauze dressings
Because I was only a number and the girl in the closet.

Please!!!!I cried for someone to get me out of there
But they were being told different stories and I started pulling out my hair.
How could you not see that which was in front of you?
You questioned my parents and they questioned you.
What’s happened to my child and why is her heart so hurt
But I was just a number and the little girl in the closet.

They all knew and could see my spirit breaking day after day.
The hate would develop with words she would hear between September and May.
She was being changed from the inside out
She always had a practice where her aggression could be let out.

Her pills were quite the comfort and the razors were too
Because she had certainly learned some less and she hates herself and wants to turn blue.
She can’t breathe without thinking that finally someone must listen to what I say
The mental torture that continues day after day.
Now it’s my turn to tell you how we will play.
You didn’t even remember my number only that “I was the girl in the closet.”

#thispuzzledlife

Hope In A Rock

Hope In A Rock

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage.”
—Unknown

Hope is a topic that I have a hard time acknowledging. In my years of experiencing trauma in most forms “hope” was not a word that was familiar. After recently having to be hospitalized, yet again, I entered the hospital feeling like I had to drag myself in the doors. This time, though, I wasn’t worried about the locked doors, as much as, I wanted someone to be there in case I collapsed from sheer exhaustion. I took my aching soul and body back to one of the only safe places left for me. And this time I was determined not to fight the process but to be grateful to be behind the locked doors that I fear. Now my mind and body could just collapse if it needed and someone would immediately be there. And collapse is exactly what my body would do. I wouldn’t have any temptations in my immediate surroundings and “safety” was there.

After 4 days, the medical needs of my body that I have neglected for so long would finally come to a head and collapsing is what happened. Luckily, I don’t remember much about that happening. I would soon be informed in a local medical hospital just exactly what happened. I would wake up to the piercing sting of a nurse starting an IV on my upper right arm. “Shit that hurts! What are you doing?” I asked. I soon realized that I was sweating profusely and felt like death. I don’t even know or could realize the running around and tests being ordered or even how serious the situation was. The next thing I remember was being in a room having been admitted to the hospital. The nurse informed me that I was so anemic that I needed a blood transfusion. I was also told that my thyroid levels were so bad that I needed a Thiamine drip. She said, “You have severe anemia and your blood pressure was extremely low when they brought you in. It’s still very low and we will continue to monitor it overnight. But what’s could kill you is your thyroid levels.” My blood work show that my levels were 8X what they should be. And it was all because I hadn’t been taking care of myself. Once again, I’m in another predicament and no one’s fault but my own. My self-destructive path had almost caught up with me permanently and I just didn’t care. I was tired of fighting my demons.

Hope

After 24 hours, I was taken back to the trauma center and the safety of locked doors. The flashbacks I would experience for the next several days were horrendous. The color in my skin was now almost normal instead of grey. My demons always know where to find me and find me they did with a vengeance. I had no cannabis to help with the symptoms. I had no razors or any other maladaptive binkies that I could turn to for comfort except my eating disorders. I found myself gagging and running to the bathroom from the gruesome images and smells that no one saw or experienced but me. The migraines from constant switching were just another complication that I deal with most days. I had to find a way out of the physical and mental torture. I seemed to have just tripped over a bag of feelings and fell in. I kept my humor, but I could see the worry on the faces of staff and patients alike and I didn’t like it. These guys were my “trauma tribe” and wanted to help protect me from myself and the effects that evil deeds had cost me. I eventually left “trauma camp” and walked through the exit doors feeling better but still shaky. And then…addiction reared its ugly head and I was facing it instantly as almost to say, “You’re not protected anymore. I’ve got a surprise for you.” My next actions I didn’t even think. I just gave into. Failure again.
I finally arrive back at my house and those four walls were calling my name. I didn’t want to leave them for a long while. When I opened the door to my bedroom fear consumed me. The energy in my room was one of hopelessness and it was strong. I seemed to just collapse in my bed. My haven of craziness was waiting, and it seemed to be welcoming me with open arms. My confidence that I had leaving had been crushed instantly.

As tears filled my eyes and the chest pains of anxiety grew stronger, I laid in my bed sobbing like a child. I felt like a defeated athlete who had worked so hard only to fail again. It happened so quickly that I couldn’t stop the additional spiral downward. My head hurt was hurting so bad that I became nauseous. Nausea seems to be the one symptom that I can always count on arriving before most others. I smelled the rotting flesh of dead bodies. And I heard someone calling my name. Before I even tried to find out if it was real, I shouted, “What do you want from me?! Do what you want to me but make it stop!!!” My breathing became erratic and I knew that I had to let whatever was happening run its course. I was completely hopeless again. I felt as though something was surrounding me like a bunch of bullies. I was scared and needed something but couldn’t name it.
After several minutes of horrible memories and visions, I was again sweating and found myself scanning my room for details. I was looking for something to hold onto. My soul was hurting, and I didn’t know what I needed. I look over towards my desk where I have my scrapbooking projects and saw a rock that had been given to me. Written on the rock was the word “HOPE.” Finally, I could breath a sigh of relief because hope was what I needed. I stared at the rock for several minutes from the now safety and comfort of my bed. And I tried to absorb any and everything that seeing that was bringing to me. Hope had been found through a rock.
#thispuzzledlife

Keep Trying (Poetry)

Keep Trying
7.30.19
Many nights alone I spend crying
Accomplishing nothing but forward footsteps towards dying.
Replaying the events of my decorated past
Hoping and praying that I’ll go someday……and fast.

The memories and visions that haunt me
Are keeping me bound and not free.
Bound to my past I have remained
While being told that to heal I must reframe.

Doing my best, I still fall hard
Until I catch a glimpse of those friendly cards.
Because people are doing for me what I can’t do for myself
While I try to put the pieces together of my shattered soul and health.

Getting this bird back flying
I know that I must keep trying
No one can do for me and I understand this one thing….
I must once again find my authentic self, unashamed voice and sing.

#thispuzzledlife

The Mommy Hole (Poetry)

The Mommy Hole (Poetry)

I Started out as a tiny little seed
Not knowing there would be adults I would need.
I grew and grew as a little baby girl
Eventually having hair that she was supposed to curl.

When I was born, she gave me away
Why was it then that she chose not to stay?
That was a pain I would never forget
Hoping that she hadn’t really left.

In my soul she left a “mommy hole”
Not knowing that her decision would forever affect my soul
I looked for her left and looked for her right
But something also never felt right.
This hole was gaping, and I just couldn’t see
What I could’ve possibly done to make her leave me?
The hole would be filled with all things bad
Drugs, alcohol, razors and belts were now what I had.

My mom and dad there was nothing they could do
Because this was a struggle between only two.

My dream was to find her and to patch that awful wound.
But that wouldn’t happen anytime soon.
I tried to find her for the answers I needed.
My heart was scared, and warnings weren’t heeded.

The day finally came when we would meet face-to-face.
Please dear birth mom doesn’t do it twice
The answers were given and not what I wanted.
And now, as an adult, I would forever be haunted.

She didn’t love me like everyone said she did
How could you possibly hate you overgrown kid?
The cold blew over me and froze my beating heart
Making it difficult for anyone to soften that which had hardened.

And today I sit before you as a 43-year-old adult child
Still wanting and needing to be softened and nowhere near meek and mild.
You gave me life and that’s all you did
But you still have love waiting for you by your lost adult kid.

#thispuzzledlife

The Hurt Child (Poetry)

The Hurt Child

6.2.2019

After 30 years I welcome you to see

A vision of the devil you carved out of me

I took your hate as a child the very best that I could

But these days I awake saying, “Bitch, I wish you would!”

 

Your words have haunted me all of these years.

And I lost count years ago on the number of tears.

That I shed for myself when no one else would.

Of course not around you but alone I could.

 

I’ve been very patient and it’s been a chore

Because while you’ve been enjoying your life, I’ve been fighting a war

One where not all of the wounds can be seen.

My smile has provided for me a social smoke screen.

 

It was my fault that others continued to get hurt.

I told no one, spoken was not one single word.

Columbine was much later and aren’t you glad

I regret not walking back into that school

for you because your ass I would’ve had.

 

You have hurt my kids through me and also my wife.

And that your you changed the course of my life

You’ve taken everything I worked so hard for and left me with nothing.

I sit here smoking weed trying to survive the memories just huffin’ and puffin’.

 

I’ll make that trip no matter what, so call me a hater

I don’t call it “revenge” I call it, “returning the favor.”

The day I show up you won’t know what to do

Because that 13 year-old hurt child is coming after you.

 

By: Dana Landrum-Arnold

#thispuzzledlife

Who Will Cry For The Little Girl?

Who Will Cry For The Little Girl?

6.13.2019

“The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see–the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.”
― Katie McGarry, Pushing the Limits

Recently, there seems to be some type of shift that’s taking place in therapy. Coach and I have been working on a few things with “my guys” and that’s where it seems that the shift started. I can’t do much explaining other than my personal opinion because right now my job is to trust and let the fairy dust fly. The player/coach relationship that I had with my coaches was always considered very sacred to me. So, you can bet your ass that the “therapeutic relationship” that I have with coach is one that is very sacred and protected as well.

Tonight I was suddenly stopped in my tracks with a big dose of anxiety that instantly had me in tears. A lot of old and extremely painful feelings have been nipping at my heels and tonight was the breaking point. Crying in front of a therapist again has taken some getting used to. I didn’t say that it was comfortable but what it has been is……SAFE. After years of being made fun of, ridiculed and belittled for my tears, it makes doing what seems natural appear impossible at times. I can’t begin to explain how damaging abuse and “bad therapy” can deeply impact someone. What I can tell you about is the relief that is felt after months and, in this case, a couple of years watching so many things about a therapist and finally taking that chance again with my tears and not getting hurt. The unspoken message between stares that says, “I’m not going to make fun of you” instantly makes the tears fall faster. There’s not a monetary value that you can put on an experience like that. Your heart feels a pleasant but guarded relief and overwhelming grief all at the same time. Since that day a deeper level of trust and openness was achieved and therapy continues to evolve. Leaps and bounds is the Speed at which I’m doing work.

        complex traum

Last night I found a picture album that I had forgotten that I had stashed away in my room. Curious what pictures were in there I looked and felt a lump in my throat when I saw it was pictures of Marshall when he was younger. I was just being a proud momma until the pictures of him as a preemie in the NICU. Feelings ran hot/cold from head to toe. I felt the same fear that I had experienced when I was unable to hold him initially. I couldn’t understand why this was happening with our new baby. The guilt and shame was incredible then and still is now.

There were approximately 30-40 more pictures each with heavy emotions attached to each one. I sat there in the quietness of my bedroom and let the anxiety and 30 years of shameful grief overtake me. The tears were not gently rolling down my cheeks. I was “Snot crying” like a toddler in Wal-Mart.  Each picture’s emotion was like it had been felt for the first time. I held my stuffed animals and wished for anything but aloneness. I needed someone to tell me that grief will not kill you.  And that I couldn’t possibly cry enough tears to be seen in the emergency room for dehydration.  Maybe I could try and understand it my way that I could make sense of things.  The best possible explanation was that I was losing water weight.  Yep…I got it after that.  The grief I was feeling was just too much. Those pictures needed a better place to stay until they don’t have quite the sting that they do now.  And I’m proud to say that those pictures have a new temporary home placement.

After adjustments were made with my guys a couple of weeks ago, the freedom for better communication has been allowed. What a sense of freedom and a new level of understanding I’m experiencing with my alters. Emotions are still very overwhelming for me. They’re almost always very intense whether or not they are positive or negative.

pretty please
IMG_0176

dont speak

I began to feel the individual feelings that my alters experience daily. I have been coasting on laughter and anger for so many years that I seem to have forgotten how to experience some of these feelings on their most basic level. And just me, my stuffies and my guys would be here to deal with them all……ALONE. I was soon overcome with grief, loss, guilt and shame not for myself but for those children, teens and adults who were so mistreated. I know it’s weird hearing someone talk about different parts of themselves like they’re the poor, pitiful neighborhood kids. But to me they are all individuals.  They just all live under one roof…MINE. Just roll with it.

I began to cry for the fear that each one experienced at a level that’s not easily put into words.

I cried for all of the anxiety, from the years of stress, that has left its permanent mark on my body physically.

I cry for the secrets that the children were forced into silence thus preventing help. And for the teens and adults that still keep secrets now because they still feel that they aren’t worthy of being helped.

I cry for the person that I use to be before the damage of the abuse showed such overwhelming evidence.

I cry for the children and their lost innocents.

I cry for those that needed and wanted help and it never arrived.

I cry for the fear of having relationships with people because when I was younger relationships came with an “OWIE.”

I cry for the adults who experienced every level of pain in a relationship for many years that was supposed to be one where love and protection were a natural reality.  Unfortunately, though,  relationships now equal fear.

I cry for the ones who had relationships with those trusted and respected people who have since died that had such a positive impact on us all.  But the loss was so great that the impact can be felt with every failed relationship since.

I cry for the one that hurts so deeply over losses that she will sabotage anything good.

I cry for the ones that miss out on the joy of being able to enjoy food and eating.  Because those times were used for target practice by others.

I cry for the little one that cries continuously. Her pain cannot be soothed.  She has a hole in her soul that was created from rejection and abandonment. She craves security and safety that was lost in 1975 and 2015.  Nothing and no one but me and the universe can hear her piercing cries.

And I cry for everyone who is doing their best to realize that love and compassion aren’t supposed to hurt.

And those who are also very slowly beginning to allow both empathy and compassion to collectively soften and re-warm the hearts that were tucked away for protection that have grown cold and necrotic.  With the re-warming comes new and healthy growth.  Hearts with healthy tissue begin to mend. The soul energy that had become so depleted will be renewed.  Tears go from the color red back to clear. The masks of the clown and the devil will not be the only two available because there won’t be a need to looked through the eyes “masking” pain. That determined athlete will have a renewed sense of purpose and a new set of trusted and loved teammates. And a new coach who’s words of wisdom gets absorbed and held onto with a death grip.  Self-worth and value become realized and then actualized.  Scars begin to fade from fresh battle wounds to the scars of the war once fought.  New and healthier ways of protecting myself will become the new breastplate that will be worn with pride knowing the work that was done to earn it. And another dynamic “coach” that will have motivated and pushed me with fairy dust to be the best possible “ME” that I could be.  But the greatest gift that will be gained covers it all……AUTHENTICITY.

Who will cry for this little girl? The ones that live inside of me.  She matters and so do they.

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
― Brené Brown

#thispuzzledlife

All I Have To Offer

All I Have To Offer

“When you’re just like everybody else, you’ve nothing

to offer other than your conformity.”

—Wayne Dyer

Lately, I’ve been adding some poetry that I had saved on my phone.  What I’ve learned about having relationships with my internal guys is how to listen to them.  If I get a wild hair and need to either write a blog or poetry it usually means that someone is needing to be heard.  Write it down and then ask questions later has been my motto lately.  What I’ve realized is that chaos and confusion are minimized and open, honest and direct communication has been encouraged. Trust me….this is one big process of learning how to build and maintain relationships with “head mates” that have seen a lot of the evils of mankind. I would like to thank Hobby Lobby and Michael’s Crafts for allowing me to buy supplies from them in order to do projects that enhance the building of a better relationship with my alters.  Ok….now I’m being silly.

I usually start getting silly when I become uncomfortable in some way.  And well, “Coach of the Year” has assigned me to write about what I have to offer as a person.  I don’t always like the “assignments” but I love the lessons and answers I get from them.  To put it all into perspective, growing pains are called “growing pains” because growth doesn’t always feel good.  Likewise, growth as an athlete requires constant practice and learning the ins and outs of playing the game.

One of the greatest lessons about playing ball that I remember was when we were learning how to run bases. Stay with me because this part can get confusing. You don’t wait until you’re all the way down the baseline to the base to look at your coaches for direction about what to do. You ALWAYS keep your eyes on your coaches.  Half way down the baseline to 1st base you start looking at your first base coach.  If he or she thinks that  you can take another base they will point in that direction.  Half way to 2nd base you begin looking for your 3rd base coach for direction on either to stay or go while also listening to your 1st base coach from behind you about whether or not to slide.  If your 3rd base coach signals to take 3rd base he or she will also be rounding you to home or telling you to “get down” to beat the throw at the base.  If you start rounding 3rd base and head to home plate, you look to your teammates on whether or not to slide.  So, from the time the ball hits the bat you look for direction and trust that your coaches are making the best decision for both you and the team.  Either way, you’re not alone…ever. You’re simply being directed until you’re back to the safety of home plate.  They direct you but they don’t nor can they bat for you individually or as a team.  The work has to come from you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artist: Celeste Roberge

It’s the same way for me in therapy.  I’m always looking to coach for guidance.  I don’t want anyone to do my work for me.  I hunger for her guidance and fear the unknown.  But I also trust her and know that decisions will be made in my best interest.  And from having been mistreated by a therapist previously,  being able to trust her to not hurt me or to not have ulterior motives is really kind of a big deal.  It has take now a solid 17 months to try to work through a lot of the fears surrounding the therapeutic process. I haven’t conquered them all but when I moved here I hadn’t conquered any. Getting hurt in therapy by a therapist has caused more issues then what I was prepared to deal with.  I had no idea how hurt I was but Texas has a way of revealing all kinds of things.  Yep….a modern day “Mr. Miyagi” she certainly is.

All of this ties into the original topic “What I have to offer?”  It’s embarrassing for me to discuss this kind of topic.  After years of being told by different people that I wasn’t good enough as a human being and the fact that I’m a total non-conformist, it’s really difficult to say, much less believe, that I have anything to offer this world.  I totally stick out like a sore thumb with the problems that often arise in public (tics, switching, emotional outbursts, aggression, etc) regardless if I can’t control them falling short in society’s definition of “normal” is not easy.

Having limitations like this certainly makes life incredibly more challenging.  The eyes that you view the world with after abuse seem to be put into place without knowledge that it’s happened.  The confidence that I worked so hard to gather and maintain as a child was completely dismissed and destroyed through the hatefulness of others.  The compassion that helped to build my confidence as a child didn’t seem to be able to shine through the darkness.  Slowly, I began to lose my spunk for life and likewise pieces of myself.  I could no longer offer those qualities in myself that I lived with daily that made me proud to be a part of the human race.  I no longer saw people that I welcomed around me as a precious commodity.  I now saw them as potentially harmful, shady and very scary.  I kept my jovial demeanor that everyone loved until the hurt I was hiding became the new clothing for my soul.  And my big heart that had always been one of my greatest assets had gone into hiding in order to also protect itself.  I looked up one day and had no idea who was looking back at me from my reflection in the mirror.  My arms were severely scarred.  Eating had become a necessary evil.  And my dreams and goals for what I had worked so hard to achieve had disappeared like grains of sand that slipped through my hands never to be seen the same way again.

  sand through hands

I had become emotionally feral through my own survival.  I seemed to have changed right before the eyes that had supported me for so many years.  And now, I had become not only someone I didn’t recognize but also someone that other people who loved and respected me didn’t recognize.  I simply had morphed from an individual that people loved into someone that people feared.  It was heartbreaking to know that this emotional freight train was going through destroying everything in my path and I was powerless to stop it.  Mel and I searched for answers daily for years in hopes of finding anything to help explain why I had become this aggressive monster that even she feared.  She fell in love with Dana who loved and cherished her unconditionally.  And almost overnight the Dana that she knew was gone only to be replaced by an aggressive, disrespectful, scary, immature and seemingly much younger version of herself that Mel didn’t recognize or understand.  And frankly, I had no explanation for anything regardless of the evidence that would be presented to me.

We moved to Albuquerque and for me it was something that I had hoped that a geographic change would help to remedy.  It didn’t.  Once we got there free from the oppression of the deep south, we sought out counseling knowing that I had problems.  We had no idea how deep those problems ran but soon we would.  I could offer nothing to anyone.  I felt I was being drained of my “goodness” and all the positive attributes that made me the compassionate and loving person that I had always been. All I felt was hurt.  And all I seemed to be able to offer was more hurt.  So, my only solution to stopping the hemorrhaging was to end relationships and to isolate myself, as much as possible, from society.  That way no one would have to suffer pain through my own doing anymore.

Enough-abuse-campaign

Again we would come in contact with another hurtful human being in the form of a therapist.  The only thing good that came out of the 2.5 years that I saw her was the correct diagnosis.  Other than that she was incredibly damaging for me therapeutically and emotionally.  I soon wanted nothing to do with professionals and became even more aggressive to make sure that no one wanted to help treat me.  The truth was that I wanted so desperately for someone to help me.  I, however, was so scared of having another hurtful professional that the fear paralyzed me and sabotaged any type of help that might’ve been offered.  My new motto was:  “No one would ever hurt me again professional or not.  And I would do everything in my power to make sure that happened.”  True to my word I became a patient in facilities that people hated to deal with.  I gave a whole new meaning to the term “non-compliance.”  I trusted no one and hated everyone.  But my fearless and loving wife still searched for answers while trying to raise our two little boys despite me often times being in a condition where I couldn’t even get out of bed to take care of my basic hygiene needs.  And yes, there were times that she had to bathe me because I just wasn’t able to at the time.  That, my friends, is a example of love.

She would find a facility in Texas that she thought I needed to try.  For two years, she pleaded for me to go and I wouldn’t.  I eventually showed up and set the aggressive tone early just to prove that I could hurt and scare people just like they had done to me.  I finally met the therapist that would work with me while I was there.  I was determined to run her off too.  What I didn’t count on was that she would be able to see past the anger into the pain hidden behind the spewing and venomous rage.  I tried to end the caring and compassionate look in her eyes and couldn’t despite my greatest efforts.  This peaked my interest but the fear of her position as a therapist took over.  I knew that I had finally met my match.

Within 1.5 years of this experience I moved to Texas as a last ditch effort of trying to save myself from an assured death.  I didn’t come here believing that things would change and get better.  I came here because a rare find showed me compassion despite my self-destructive path.  So again….what do I have to offer?  For me, I’m still in the process of finding out what those gifts have the potential to be.  My sense of humor continues to be one of my strongest and best qualities.  I have an education that allows me to speak to people about the damaging power of abuse.  I have the emotional knowledge to be able to reach teenagers and to know the struggles of living life feeling emotionally trapped.  I have the knowledge and firsthand experience of seeing how compassion and love can topple the effects of abuse by soothing the pain and hurt.  I know and can feel what it’s like to be loved by someone who will sacrifice everything to make sure you’re safe because they want so desperately to help find the one they fell in love with.  I know what it’s like to make sacrifices as a parent to protect two little precious beings that still call me mom.  I know what it’s like to still be coachable after being a washed up “has been” athlete from 20+ years ago.  I have the experience and know how to continue to pick myself up and keep going when I’ve pushed myself way past my limits in order to survive.  I know what it’s like and fully understand the fear of letting someone in to help when allowing someone to do that caused so much hurt and pain.  I know the feeling of not being heard.  I know the agony of silent screams and the language of pain that can take on so many different forms. And I have the Experience, Strength and Hope of someone who’s been fighting a war my entire life without being in the military and not ever having to leave my homeland.

One thing that Sarah taught me many years ago was this, she said, “Dana, you have the capacity and ability to do great things.  But you can’t give away what you don’t have.  Recovery is what you need and what will make great things possible.”  So, I say this to you now…recovery is a marathon not a sprint.  You don’t ever reach the finish line of being “recovered.”  I still struggle emotionally on a daily basis and I still don’t yet have all of the answers I want.  I am, however, slowly receiving the answers I need.  Healing wounds is not easy nor is it comfortable.  And unfortunately, it’s also not instant.  It took me 43 years to become this damaged and dysfunctional and to think that it can all be changed overnight is unrealistic. One thing I never allow life to come between is me and my therapy.  I have my heart set on once again being a functional part of my family and to help my one and only soul mate raise our two little boys that we fought so hard to have.  And today I can say that the parts of my destructive self, no matter how slowly, have begun to be silenced.

“Mentors don’t just have to be people

who are older or more experienced that you are.

 Mentors are people who really care about you, know you,

and want to offer feedback and advice to help you grow.”

—Jennifer Hyman

#thispuzzledlife

The Day I Was Born (Poetry)

The Day I Was Born

The day I was born everyone would see the baby isn’t she cute just look at her feet!

But what they didn’t know was already done

I had been given away like I was a toy gun.

You are a gift from God my parents would say

But this little girl didn’t see it that way.

Oh….she was young and she loved you so

This I hoped for but I needed to know.

I searched and longed for you every day of my life

Ballgames, ceremonies where could she be this is causing such strife.

The void that was left it couldn’t be filled.

Alcohol, razors, shopping and lots and lot of pills.

The primal wound is what it’s called

Nothing can help this pain at all.

I found someone that helped me understand the hurt.

She was my Yoda and now she’s under the dirt.

The day I finally met you I didn’t know how to feel.

This was the moment I’ve waited for and now the records would be unsealed

Questions were asked and answers were given.

What you said to me…Are you freakin’ kiddin’?

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This grown little girl finally got to meet her bio mom.

The little girl was so happy until that mom dropped the bomb.

“You were an inconvenience and I was mad at your dad.”

Really was that all the feeling you had?

The thoughts of hope and healing were once again gone

She hated me because I was me and I again felt all alone.

This new wound was more painful and I put my head in my hands and cried.

Because she didn’t love me like they said, it was all a big lie.

My soul felt abandoned it was dark and cold.

But this time I was not a baby I was 31 years old.

When I got home I just needed to be held

But instead he said, “just think about it she’s

 the one got rid of you” was all that was said.

Every day since I replay that same scene

Hoping that what she said was all a bad dream.

But I know what I heard on that cold wintery day

The woman that gave me life hated me in every kind of way.

When December rolls around I shoot daggers at that date

Because I don’t like celebrating the day I was given away.

I don’t know if I’ll ever make peace

Because She hated a baby for having a heart beat.

By: Dana Landrum-Arnold

#thispuzzledlife

 

Happy, Joyous And Free (Poetry)

Happy, Joyous and Free

All I want is to be left alone,

To hide in a tomb as my home.

But traveling this path requires company

If I expect to come out of this mess triumphantly.

 

The deathly silence that I now crave

Is the same thing that will take me to an early grave.

Too afraid to pick up the phone and no fault of her own

The one that hurt me is already long gone.

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Being around people it makes me hurt

I stay trapped inside barely surviving while I do this work.

I try and I try but all I can see

Is failure upon failure that keeps following me

 

Allow me my silence because I’m working hard

Crying tears daily just walking in the yard

Because I understand who I use to be

Living my life and being totally free.

 

All Those days have come and gone

And now my life revolves around the inside of my home.

This work has to pay off at some point for me

Because I hunger to live life again happy, joyous and free.

 

By: Dana Landrum-Arnold

#thispuzzledlife

Please Help Me!!!! (Poetry)

Please help me!!

I tried but I wasn’t enough

With every bite you just wouldn’t give up.

They never heard your words but i still do.

I wanted to please no one but you.

You raped me with your voice,

And I never had another choice.

Haunted by your abuse

I knew there was no use.

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Try and try I did every day,

Slowly pieces of me would begin to fade away.

I sit here with razors and something to drink

Wanting to do something anything besides think.

But you return with every bite of food

And every decision.

Just like before with your narcissistic precision.

The memories are too much for me to bare

Everyone says, “just eat who cares?”

I do and with food comes many tears

With so much of your abuse from so many years.

I hate food and this is me pleading,

Please stop and let me learn about eating.

You’ve had your turn And now the time is mine.

It’s time I leave your mean ass behind.

You’ve taken part of my soul with which you played with like a toy.

But all it was was one of your narcissistic ploys.

You tried to mold me into something I could never be.

My cries are loud and screaming, Please someone help me!!

By:  Dana Landrum-Arnold

#Thispuzzledlife

Life With The Plant

Life With The Plant

“It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes Marijuana is the only thing that works… It is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve Marijuana. We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”

—- Dr. Sanjay Gupta / Neurosurgeon

Where our society and medical professions have advanced from the days of lobotomies, bloodletting, hydrotherapies and many other dehumanizing ways of treating mental illness, many attitudes and stigmas still remain the same.  And still, there are those affiliated with religion that seem to think that mental illness is punishment for moral transgressions.  And yes, I have also been told that even though trauma induced, my alters are actually demons that do not deserve a voice but should be cast out instead.  I chalk a lot of this up to ignorance but still the target was me.

While living in Albuquerque Mel and I would come to realize, unbeknownst to us at the time, the complications that living with a mental illness would entail.  I had lived with severe depression and anxiety since childhood which few people from school days realize.  Even as a child and teenager I was well liked and was one of the favored clowns much like today.  Before we left Mississippi there was very clear evidence that something was definitely wrong.  Finally, breaking free of a 14 year abusive relationship just seemed to complicate life more than either of us could’ve ever imagined.

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Albuquerque was a place where we could break free from the overly conservative south to have a relationship and family, or so we thought.  With each passing day, though, my “quirkiness” would soon take on a life of its own.  By the time our oldest, Marshall, was born it was like the flood gates had been opened.  We were already seeing a very loyal and trusted therapist.  I was now losing time for days and weeks.  I was hallucinating and becoming increasingly suicidal and my behavior was becoming more erratic and at times very scary.  I had also started becoming very aggressive which led to horrible rages.  The scariest part about it all was that I had no memory of these things happening.

The level of trauma that I held within me was now bursting at the seams to a point that I couldn’t contain it.  The harder I tried, the more I failed.  I was seeing a psychiatrist and had run the gamut of psych meds and their subsequent unpleasant side effects trying to find some combination that could provide me, Mel and our new little baby some relief.  I had been given several different diagnoses that never quite seemed to fit.  And each time I would have to be hospitalized the re-traumatization just grew in intensity.

I eventually became toxic from all of the meds and was seen in the emergency room because the doctors thought that my kidneys were shutting down or that I might’ve had a stroke.  I was admitted to the hospital but the next morning the doctor that came to see me was yet another psychiatrist.  Again, it seemed, no one wanted to believe us.  I politely told him he could leave and that I was going to leave as well since nothing was being done and the bill was going higher and higher.  Mel and I left the hospital completely defeated and our trust in the system that was designed to help was becoming depleted.

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Mel would soon begin capturing some of my strange behaviors on video in order to show the doctors exactly what was happening.  Doctors and other professionals still didn’t seem to believe us despite the captured evidence.  No one believed that it was possible to have these types of  behaviors and  to not be able to remember doing them.  When Mel would show me the videos and tell me other things that I had done, I was appalled.  There’s no possible way that I was treating her or our new baby this way.   In some instances, after seeing the footage, I would collapse with grief.

After returning to my psychiatrist following the debacle in the hospital he said, “Hey, how about we try the medications again?”  I simply replied, “You’re crazier than I am if you think I’m going through that shit again.  I almost died from your pharmaceutical poisons.”  Psych meds didn’t help they seem to complicate and exacerbate my symptoms but most of the time left me feeling “robotic” and unable to feel anything. That’s when I was put on medical cannabis and it has been a lifesaver every since.  Anytime, I’ve had to be hospitalized for mental health issues I ALWAYS refuse the medications unless absolutely necessary like for sleep.  The meds have never helped me because most of the time I feel so bad from the side effects of the adjustment period that I’ll just quit taking them.  They simply made me a “chemistry experiment.”

For the first time in my life, I was able to have some type of quality of life while we searched endlessly for someone that could treat my complex traumatic past.  Cannabis has its limitations just like any other medications.  But, for once, something was actually working and “Big Pharma” just couldn’t compete with nature.  These days I don’t ask for permission or have the willingness to wait on an already corrupt government and the decisions of the narcissist clown that currently runs the country to tell me when it’s ok to have a quality of life.  I just simply do what I have to do to survive the best way I know how and most psych meds are still not a part nor will they ever be a part of that formula ever again.

I have taken much criticism for using cannabis as a medication to treat PTSD.  Again, it’s ignorance that seems to fuel these criticisms.  Until you have almost from synthetic medications then maybe an alternative way doesn’t seem feasible. Even as a recovering addict I have yet to have a single problem related to addiction with cannabis.  Hands down this plant has and is continuing to save my life from some incredibly debilitating symptoms.

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For some people cannabis seems to be the only answer.   I take a medication that can replace any combination of psych meds.  There are those times, though, when symptoms seem to just shoot through the medicinal ceiling of the plant.  And this is when I will usually have a backup plan for anxiety meds and sleep meds.  Some people mistakenly think that medical cannabis “cures” PTSD.  I politely tell them that it’s a medication just like any other medication to treat the paralyzing “symptoms” of the disorder only it’s much safer and works better for me.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the ability to “unbreak the plate” of the traumas that caused the PTSD to begin with.  You still have to do therapy.  You still can’t go around the issue to reach a resolution.  Painful as it might be the only way for that to happen is to work through it.  Cannabis helps with the very frightening flashbacks, migraines, insomnia, anxiety and any other unpleasant symptom that can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.  So while the presidential pumpkin and his posse are busy playing politics and searching for the next horrible hairdo. I’ve got therapy and a lifetime of trauma to work through.  I and many others don’t have the luxury of being able to wait for them to get finished rolling around in the bed with “Big Pharma” and pass federal legislation so that this medication is legal everywhere. I, not anyone else, will die from my PTSD symptoms unless they’re controlled.  Sadly, many people, as well as, returning soldiers have died by their own hand because of lack of access to a medication that can save lives in so many different ways.

I will always back this highly stigmatized and demonized plant that has helped give me some type of quality of life despite some people’s ignorance about the topic.  My wife will tell you that being put on the cannabis program has saved my life.  And even though functionality still fluctuates heavily sometimes from the disorder itself, it’s still so much better than it could be and has been thanks to a plant called exactly what it is….weed.  Cannabis has had such a positive impact on my life that living without it seems inconceivable.  And the only side effects I have to worry about these days are sleepy, happy and hungry.

#Thispuzzledlife

Acknowledgment Of Strength And Courage

Acknowledgement of Strength and Courage

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,

while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

—-Lao Tzu

Lately, there has been a request to identify strength and courage from within myself.  And, honestly, the answer is not very easy for me to identify nor to convey.  I haven’t written since early April and couldn’t have written if I had wanted to.  Sometimes I seem to get lost in my own world not knowing how to get back to the present date and time.  The words “strength” and “courage” seem to be ones of perception rather than having a concrete definition that fits most people and situations.  Hang in there with me.  I promise there is a point.

One of the more difficult things in my life has been to accept compliments.  The ones I did get from perpetrators always seemed to have some form of abuse attached to them.  Growing up and developing as an athlete I regularly received compliments from my coaches.  I not only developed confidence but the discipline and hard work were always worth the effort.  I received compliments from my parents, the parents of friends and teammates.  When the compliments began to take on a more sinister tone and action from some people, I began to fear the very thing that only years before seemed to propel me into a healthy confidence and feeling of safety.  Kind words, in their own way, can now cause instant fear and embarrassment unseen to the naked eye.

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You can point out that survival of all the abuse is an example of both strength and courage.  However, my stance is simply that I did what I had to do to live.  Is this a great example of minimization? Well of course it is.  But emotionally this is truly how I feel about my story of survival.  So…..to identify examples of each I am forced to look at these things from another angle.  I identify these by looking into the heart and eyes of my alters.  This has truly been a process that has now led me to a position and attitude of gratitude.  Trust me, it has not always been like this.  For years I’ve been stuck continuing to try and deny the depth of my mental problems and diagnoses.  And what this has led to for my system are feelings of denial and minimization of their strength, courage, bravery and existence of them both individually and as a group.  This has led to anger, resentment and a whole lot of unneeded and hurtful chaos from them at times. They have had a general feeling of being unneeded and unwanted after years of wading through a life of blood, sweat, tears and the evilness of others.  They have never wanted a  war medal but rather just acknowledgement of the abuse and their efforts.

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness.  Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”

—August Wilson

Me and “my team” or “my guys” as they are commonly referred to are not expendable.  These children, teens and adults stepped into some very frightening situations when my mental and physical limits as an individual had been reached.  Their actions often times with accurate precision led to self-preservation with the ultimate goal to preserve life.  Their strength and courage doesn’t seem to have limits for which I’ll am eternally grateful.  Their existence was created out of fear, pain and necessity. Mel will tell you that there have been times when physically and emotionally I shouldn’t have been able to function on any level.  But you could also look up and standing before you would be someone who seemed to be functioning almost completely normal. The quest for my education while undergoing abuse, sometimes daily, is a stunning example of this very thing.  Now several years later the answers as to how this was even a remote possibility are very clear.  My guys stepped in and helped to make sure that my goals were achieved despite always being told that my dreams were nothing more than under achievable pipe dreams.  To me, they are a living testimony of strength, courage and bravery that cannot be matched.  And maybe my story is changing from one of survival to one about redemption.

“I never said I wanted a ‘happy’ life but an interesting one.  From separation and loss, I have learned a lot.  I have become strong and resilient, as is the case of almost every human being exposed to life and to the world.  We don’t ever know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward.”

—Isabel Allende

#thispuzzledlife

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

“There are certain life lessons that you can only learn in the struggle.”
― Idowu Koyenikan, Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability

I have been asked more than once since writing these blog posts how I decide what to write?  The truth is that I don’t always know.  Sometimes it can be a topic that has embedded itself in my gut.  It can be a topic that I continually search for answers and/or the meaning in my life.  But, I often times will begin writing without any type of direction.  Maybe it’s even some type of struggle where writing is my way of asking the universe for a lesson to be taught.  And my thoughts have always been to sit back and wait for my answers to be revealed.  Whatever the “reason” or “lesson” my intent is to be open and receptive no matter how difficult.

I have always been one that has taken the hard road out of necessity. Mel will be one of the first to tell anyone who asks that “Dana has to see something for herself before she will make a decision.  You can tell her all day long the easiest way to go but until she sees things for herself she won’t budge.”  This is not a fact that I deny.  Maybe the hard truth is the only way I learn.  If you wait for me to read between the lines, I will most assuredly leave you frustrated.  Being incredibly hard headed and coming in 2nd place only to my Nannie, has never really made the “easy way” a workable option either.  I must have questions answered and the questions about the questions answered.  I might still reach the same conclusion but it will have taken me twice as long.

As a young child and then a mouthy teenager if I was told not to do something you can write it down that within hours or minutes I would be doing the very thing I was told not to do.  This is where playing sports and having coaches who had the ultimate authority taught me discipline.  As an adult and without their sometimes harsh discipline I seemed to go through life hungering for direction.  Also, through this same discipline I was taught how to pick myself up and keep going.  Because it wasn’t all about me, it was about our TEAM.  This team concept is one lesson that I have never lost.

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At 43 years-old and a difficult adult life, I’ve had to take some hard looks in the mirror and some much needed soul searching that would’ve had the ability to piss off Gandhi. Go a step further and do this in solitude with the daily worries of a mother and a wife and it doesn’t take long for someone to start questioning whether or not the chip on my shoulder is actually worth carrying.  It also has the incredible ability to lessen the teenage arrogance in my walk and anger written on my face all seemingly hidden by a smile and a few jokes.  Because when you don’t have the daily distractions of life there’s nothing that can bring forth an argumentative yet very sobering day like the one staring back at you.

There have been many times that I have stared in the mirror only to see the one looking back almost as if to say, “Really?  Smiles and laughter are all fun and games until you get a really good look at yourself when the clown isn’t on stage, isn’t it?”  I continue to look in the mirror at the stern arrogance of the one who, in recent years, has been able to provide intimidation whenever needed.  I look down at my hands remembering how much damage can be done to a room in a fit of rage.  I then look at my forearms and hear the familiar taunts from 30 years prior and the feeling of words spoken as though they were being said for the first time. The adult that was to educate her never raised her hand in anger because the muscles she used as a weapon could also cause damage.  I look up as tears begin to stream down my face wishing, for that moment, that someone would make the pain in my chest cease.  I search for a laugh or a smile to be instantaneous medicine as it has been for the majority of my life.  Instead, however, were a set of eyes belonging to a very hurt teenage child who is fixated on the guilty memory of the unknown mother who said, “She hurt my son too.” Through the tears she tried but couldn’t convey the language of her pain.  Pain, as she would discover, wasn’t always spoken. And on this day, the lessons were learned.

#thispuzzledlife

I AM RESPONSIBLE

I AM RESPONSIBLE

“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared.

It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.”
― Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited

The term “Responsible” has never been a word that most people use to describe me especially in my teen years.  There are those teens who are very responsible driving, their studies and extracurricular activities.  I personally got caught up in the comedy of the situation from start to finish even if it was actually more dangerous than funny.   As a teenager when my well thought out teen ideas would emerge like going to bonfire parties with fellow classmates and upper classmen and seeing how many times and how much we can throw up in one night without dying; or driving like a bat out of hell with gasoline panties on down what was known as “Thrill Hill” outside the Petal, MS city limits at speeds where those that drove down it should’ve all met our demise; or  and this is the best one…..we as a softball “team” on the eve of a “hot as crotch” practice we thought it would be a great idea to get drunk as a team would help with team unity.  Guess who DID NOT buy that explanation?  Nope…as I recall the next day we ran, and ran and ran and ran until your hangover was gone or there was no more puke left to let loose.  I, for one, never drank the night before a practice EVER again.  I’m usually the one cheering on such outrageous ideas and had already begun planning jail commissary meals made with Ramen Noodles as somewhat of a “celebratory being handcuffed” gesture if needed.  Guilty your honor!!!!!!

The thought of coming in contact and being held emotionally hostage for the next 14 years never crossed my mind.  My main goals, at the time, was to stay as high as I could and not eat.  Both somehow seemed to soothe my heart from my 8th grade disaster only a couple of years prior.  But now we as a student body and a community had been gut punched by the disappearance and alleged murder of our classmate Angela Freeman.  As I’ve mentioned before our graduating high school class  and subsequent classes were pummeled with tragedies.  I felt like the combination of school and home where death and illnesses were always imminent in my daddy’s large family.   We just never got to recover from one thing before something else happened.  I was beyond mood swings.  I was like a mood theme park.  I just remember feeling different, alone and trapped.  Obviously, my theory about being able to do WHATEVER I wanted to do, as an adult, also had some flaws waiting for their time to appear.

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When I jumped full body into adulthood before my time that’s when I understood “keeping secrets” at the fullest.  I literally was taught so many lessons about life, at that time, that I couldn’t sit back to study and understand them. I was busy learning all about malignant narcissism without knowing the full meaning.  And since this was prior to when I decided to go back to college,  I also thought that domestic violence was all about physical abuse.  I was busy surviving and not really knowing what that meant either.  I knew that I never saw or heard things between my parents like I heard every moment of every day with him.  Heck, I just thought this was the reason people were so miserable being married.  I thought this was just the way things were suppose to be. Oh how my immaturity and naivety was drunk driving my way down the highway of life at that time.  I still look back in total astonishment at how I made it through the early days of abuse.

In the late 80s and early 90s, abuse against children and how it would affect their ability to function as an adult was not known or seen as important.  And the ability to go to therapy was more of a luxury item rather than one of necessity. Affordability was practically nil to many children and families.  I would also be willing to bet that there were no mental health benefits on an insurance policy either.  So, for me and other children and teens that needed the help early on would not and could not be provided with the help we so desperately needed.

“Stay away from lazy parasites, who perch on you just to satisfy

their needs, they do not come to alleviate your burdens, hence,

their mission is to distract, detract and extract,

and make you live in abject poverty.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

I’ve been told many times that the teacher that abused me was treated the same way by her father. My ex-husband and his brother were horribly physically and emotionally abused by their father.  The excuse that has always been given when I asked him about the abuse was justified by him saying, “We might’ve been scared of him but we weren’t out running the streets getting drunk or high either.”  I could also see very clearly how the abuse had affected him and how he still feared his father each time we went to visit him.  I was told what I could and could not say or do around his father.  And I always found it strange that he and his brother called his father by his first name rather than “father” or “daddy.”  The clearest point of view I saw about the abuse they went through was by how I was treated by them.  Both of the grown little abused boys over the years had also become their father.  These 3 people that I’m talking about were not “crazy” they were and still are just mean.  And to my knowledge have never had a day of therapy in their lives.  What they did do successfully was to perpetuate onto me and other people just like it was done to them.  And they go through life never having faced their on responsibility in acknowledging how the abuse affects and continues to hurt people through their aberrant, coercive aggressive, threatening and other overt and covert behaviors. This works down their intended target until the individual believes their lies as though it was part of the gospel.  And then ANYTHING that goes wrong is their victim’s fault no matter what.  Every weekend the ex-husband would go play golf as his favorite pastime.  I use to pray hoping that he played well. If not, somehow it was my fault that he didn’t play well.  People have asked me many times why I didn’t leave sooner.  The problem lies once they get you mentally to believe all of the lies that they tell you it rewires your brain and you wake up one day and everything you use to believe about yourself and the world has now become what they think and believe about the world.  Your beliefs were stupid and you were too dumb to have your own belief system anyway.  Therefore, we cling to that relationship with everything we have because being without them would mean total annihilation for us or so we believe.

The important part

Here’s the whole point of this particular blog.  These people and their behaviors are characteristic of transgenerational trauma in both families.  However, they have all chosen to pass this abuse on and do nothing about it.  With the traumatic life that I’ve lived, I have chosen to do some very emotionally painful therapy in order to stop the cycle of abuse since my abusers didn’t have the guts to do their own work.  They might can make it continue wherever they are now.  In my family, though, the cycle of abuse ends right here.  I have been carrying the abuse of the boys that molested me.  I have been carrying the abuse of my ex-husband and brother from their father.  And I have been carrying the abuse of the teacher that always has a “I just caught the stomach virus” look to greet you with.  Plus, I have been carrying trauma and abuse unrelated to them and that’s my own stuff.  Your baggage that I’ve carried for you for so many years will be waiting for you at the nearest dumpster where it belongs.  Ya’ll have had control of my past and present but the future is MINE.

I can’t even begin to fathom our children having the same fears that I had as a child, teen and adult.  And I would run in to rescue my sweet Mel if I saw any signs of this and that’s exactly what I’ve done.  Moving to Texas is exactly how I was able to rescue them thus far from the abuse.  I looked up one day and I was saying some of the exact same hateful stuff that my ex-husband said to me.  I have 3 people desperately wanting their other mommy and spouse to be able to come back together and to function as the family and couple like we set out to be.  And for that I AM RESPONSIBLE.  The one who was “too stupid to think for herself” was taking very detailed notes those years with you.  And once you study a system and the way it works you can also find the flaws in the system.  The night I got up and walked out I had just beaten the “ALMIGHTY NARCISSIST” at this own game.

“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego.”

Amanda Torroni

#thispuzzledlife

The Collar (Poetry)

The Collar

When I was with you,  you made it seem

Like you would always treat me as your queen.

You set the line and patiently waited

Wanting to see if I would take the bait.

I took that bait as soon as it hit the water

He was whispering under his breath

“HaHa! Now I’ve got her.”

 

A few years later the child bride would be of age.

And this was what he needed to secure her fate.

She didn’t smile much on her wedding day.

Because at the altar she knew she was making a very big mistake.

Instead of a ring she was given a collar

It was suppose to make her obey and if not she would holler

It kept her in line with him at the controls

He told her what she could eat and where she could go.

slave collar

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe on their Honeymoon he would find a way to chill out

My assumption was wrong and that very night she would find out;

because he told her she would kick him complete out

That night she would hear that her teammate was dead

But instead of hugs she was forcibly raped.

She learned how to cry in ways that he never saw.

And many times he never saw her tears fall.

 

She wasn’t his queen nor his bride

Because all she wanted was to run and hide

From his abuse she would understand a new life.

One where orders were obey and eggshells were walked on day and night

She did not want this life of hell

But this was the life where she chose to dwell

 

His hateful words and scary threats

She doesn’t understand why he does this.

She could never do right so how can I leave.

With tears in her eyes She screamed, Stop it! Stop it! Stop it please!

“It’s Your Fault!! You So Stupid…..You can’t do anything right!!!

Oh my God how do I leave?! Help was nowhere in sight.

 

“When she gets enough she’ll finally leave” is what they would say

They didn’t understand that she had wanted to leave long ago

“You’re my bitch and all four you go.”

And I made you my legal ho.

I was nothing to you but a junkyard dog.

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The door to my freedom Somehow managed to swing open.

But all I could do was sit in my house that became my prison

I don’t care that you called me hog

But what I had really become was one of Pavlov’s Dogs.

 

Many screamed get out and go

I couldn’t bring myself to leave him because that was all that I know.

It was comfortable because I knew that routine.

And I bet you guessed that I seldom was ever treated like a queen.

 

I thought long and hard on making a plan

I had to hurry just as fast as I can

the time came to leave him like many times before.

But this time I would keep my eyes straight ahead

and not look back at that door.

 

He followed close behind to my car and called me everything in the book.

And with every word he said I trembled and shook.

I’m leaving him and I must be crazy.

I would never again be called fat and lazy.

I could also remove that horrible shock collar.

And as I left him for the final time I was was terribly scared

Because I just walked out of my prison without a collar;

Finally free to eat what I want to eat and to Go anywhere I wanted to go.

By: Dana Arnold

#thispuzzledlife

Code Of Silence

The Code of Silence

The predator wants your silence.  It feeds their power,

entitlement, and they want it to feed your shame.”

—Viola Davis

When I first begin getting to know someone, the very first thing I look for is their level of snitch. What do I mean by this?  Snitching is when you tell on someone to get yourself out of trouble.  Another word for a snitch is a tattletale.  To be labeled as a snitch socially is to be ostracized.  In other circles being labeled as a snitch can get you killed.  And snitching is a predator’s greatest enemy because that exposes secrets.

As a small child the term snitching wasn’t used yet. I did know what the term tattletale meant.  And what hurting my friend’s feelings and damaging a relationship because of telling secrets meant.  It meant people would be mad at me and I would have no friends.  Even teachers at daycares can get tired of all the tattling.  Step inside any daycare and you’re liable to hear, “The next child that tattles doesn’t go outside and play.”  These are two dichotomous examples of telling information.  My question to think about is are we teaching our kids the best and safest message?  There are always exceptions to the rule.  By the time these children are teens there’s an unwritten “code of conduct” around telling information whether it be relevant or not that might save lives.  This will also get someone labeled as a snitch.

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I can expand more about teens later, however, for the sake of this blog post I’m going to refer to myself as a young child.  My first lesson in keeping secrets that should’ve been told was around 5 years-old.  I was molested many times by my neighbor’s youngest and middle sons.  These boys were around 13-15 years old and old enough to know better.  The way I was held emotionally hostage was through threats like “the police would come and I would have my parents taken away.”  I was also told, “that I would make people mad and no one would want to be my friend. And it would be all my fault.”

This little girl named Dana would do everything possible to make sure both she and her family was safe.  From a child’s point of view, I hung on to every scary word spoken.  And afterwards they would tell me how beautiful I was.  The searing pain that would burn my body would leave an imprint on my psyche even today.  The pain and fear would start and I would leave somewhere in my mind where pain was not felt.  Still to this day, I’m very confused in just about every way in regards to having been molested.

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People  that seek power over other people instill in their victims that telling about abuse is a sign of weakness.  As a teenager, anytime I told or tried to tell about the abuse to the school administration this information would get back to the teacher making the abuse worse.  The message I got from doing that was to “forget asking for help and save yourself.”  After the abuse of my 8th grade year, I vowed that as long as I was around to witness someone needing defending or help I would step in and protect in whatever way that I could.  This has bought me unnecessary trouble with coaches and friends but to me it was worth it.  I could then lay my head on my pillow at night and sleep.

One night after Mel and I had been speaking to a class at the college, A mother from that class asked me where I went to middle school.  I told her Petal Middle School and she asked about the teacher that was so abusive.  Because her 8th grade son would come home from school every afternoon with tears in his eyes due to being called names in front of his classmates by a teacher. She told me the teacher she was speaking about and after my heart dropped into my stomach I said, “Unfortunately, ma’am that is who I was speaking about.”  She asked, “What should I do?”  I told her, “Tell someone and get your child in counseling like yesterday.”  I don’t know whatever happened to that mother and her child’s situation.  The information I shared with her helped she and her son?  However, a big load of shame and guilt was dumped on me as penance for that child and any other children after me that I kept the secret about the abuse ,consequently, leaving the predator unscathed and in the driver’s seat to handpick her next teen victim with ease.

The small little southern city with air tight politics and a nose for people’s business other than their own was to my detriment that year.  I was told many years later by one of the administrators that worked there my middle school years information that still burns my ears.  I was told, “You were a child at that time and I couldn’t say anything especially due to the politics.  But I can tell you now that she should’ve never been around children.”  The disappointment must’ve been written all over my face when she saw how perplexed I was.  She said, “Is there something I can try to clear up for you?”  I stood there for a moment not knowing what to say but burning with questions.  “Yes ma’am.  I do have a question…..So you all knew she was abusive and shouldn’t have been around children and you let her teach anyway?!”  “I was her verbal punching bag and her abuse has affected my education, my career, my relationship with my wife and children, my relationships with others and above all the relationship and image of how I view myself as a human being!”  I was mad but I couldn’t stop then tears.  She hugged me as we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

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 When I went to my own vehicle and unlocked the doors, I sat down and shook my head and said, “They knew the whole time and didn’t try to stop her.  Didn’t they know how badly it all hurt?  Did they even care? Yes, I fought every way possible to make it through that year in school that still shows its ugly scarring.  No matter what adult I tried to tell that year I got no help from the abuse.  And “snitching” never did me any favors.  Had someone look past the labels and protected me from the backlash of telling the truth about the abuse my life could and maybe even would be much different now.  That one year of school affected a few other teenagers in ways that are still damaging to them.  The most visible are the scars that line the forearms of those teens with 30 years of thick scarring  from the one thing that would listen to us all then…..razors.  I also had the experience of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia), alcoholism, drug addiction that were all there with their arms wide open to help shield me from the unwanted torture of abuse.

The “Code of Silence” protected by perpetrators in a way that I had no defense.  And as a very young bride, I would face abuse again for the next 14 years.  That “Code of Silence” that was used as an intimidation factor all those years worked.  It kept me silent and the perpetrators innocent.  I go to bed scared every night and the first emotion I have in the morning is fear.  This shame based silence that seen as normal or acceptable is very hurtful.  Maybe protecting offenders because of “snitching” isn’t the problem. And maybe listening and helping to protect children and teens when they tell should be handled first instead of politics and reputations.

“We must take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.

Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

–Elie Wiesel

#thispuzzledlife

“Bruised Inside”

“Bruised Inside”

“You’re gonna have to go through hell, worse than any nightmare you’ve ever dreamed.But when it’s over, I know you’ll be the one standing.  You know what you have to do.  Do it!”

—Coach Duke, Creed

In my blog I repeat several different views about the abuse I went through.  It might be from a different angle but repeating will inevitably happen.  If this is a problem then read elsewhere because this blog is about MY healing and when I’m struggling or laughing about something worth sharing, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

This is a great therapeutic tool that I developed out of necessity several years ago.  At that time, it seemed to be just what I needed that listened and was non-judgmental to whatever problem I would write about.  Whatever the issue was, I wanted and searched for my answers to some of my strange behavior at times.  I was simply searching for where the “old Dana” went and who in the heck was this “new Dana” in many different pieces that is trying to emerge?

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The one part of life that I’m very strong in is protective instincts.  This means protecting those I love even if the protection is from me.  I can’t say that I love someone and then when the situation calls for this protection I not be willing to do just that.  I’ve ended a relationship recently for this very reason and it has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

Looking for answers as I’ve always done, I went to the library to see what I can find about a topic that has been bothering me “Bullying at school by teachers.”  Most books on this topic usually lead to bullying from other students.  But this day, I found a book that would seemingly have some much needed answers and validation that has been lacking.  The book is titled, “Teen Torment by Patricia Evans.”

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I opened the book to a random page with the title…..

In this passage I found this….”In a culture that overlooks verbal abuse, teens who are tormented by it face difficulties accomplishing developmental tasks such as independence, identity, and career goals.  When teachers put them down or rage at them these students lose the confidence to become independent. And one of the long-term consequences of verbal abuse is that it disconnects teens from their emotional self.”  Essentially, what happens is that the teen learns how to feel nothing in order to withstand the abuse.  “The teen then can’t figure out who they really are versus who they’re told they are.  Consequently, they look for their identity outside of themselves making up an image that seems more acceptable since they’ve already been told many times that who they are is not adequate as a human being.  They might develop an appearance so that no one really knows what has happened to them as a safety measure.  They will go to any lengths to maintain this image which to them seems safe.  Instead they end up losing their own interests and talents because all of their thoughts about who they thought they were have been told time and time again that they’re wrong.”

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Indicators of Verbal Abuse

  • Show a noticeable change in behavior
  • Become isolated and withdrawn
  • Pull away and refuse to talk
  • Seem depressed
  • Cry easily or often
  • Not have close friends
  • Have bad dreams
  • Complain about going to school
  • Cut classes at school
  • Refuse to go to school
  • Throw up before school
  • Seem to daydream a lot
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Get much lower grade than usual
  • Seem to have lost enthusiasm for anything
  • Become self-critical
  • Hurt themselves, cut themselves, eating disorders and pull their hair
  • Act aggressively towards siblings, peers or parents
  • Get angry often
  • Lash out at others
  • Get in many fights (Teen Torment, 2003).

When I was abused by this teacher everything that I was being taught, by my parents, about respect of another human being was confusing to say the least.  She told me so many negative things about myself as a human being and through negative body image that I was almost guaranteed to sprout the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia that I still struggle with daily after 30 years.  I’m tormented by her words and actions daily.  I can hear them as clearly as the day she said them.  And as sad as it seems, I hold onto my eating disorders and other self-harming behaviors with a death grip because somewhere along the way they were the only part of my life that seemed safe and something I can control.  But this “control” is a false control just like addiction to a chemical.  It’s also behaviors that pretend to be your friend until you realize that that “safe friend” has taken everything away mainly your sanity.  Self-harming behaviors of any kind have negative social implications which have made me a prisoner of my bedroom.  Most people don’t want to hear excuses for why you don’t want to eat.  They just see it as a disrespectful gesture and will think twice before inviting you again.  And God forbid if they happen to see your scars from cutting.  They think they’re hanging out with a psychotic monster that has the possibility to lunge at them with a razor blade at the dinner table.  My thoughts have always been, “If you only knew what caused these scars to appear, you’d think before judging next time.”

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When I finished reading only about 10 pages of information I laid my book down in my lap and began sobbing.  Finally, I had found some information that spoke for me what I couldn’t.  I saw on those pages validation for that horrible year of abuse with information about what it did to me.  I was called all the names and was told that I was stupid and fat among other things that children should never have directed at them by anyone much less from a “safe person” in a position of authority.  That year affected me in ways that I still can’t fully understand.  This book and it’s passages tend to make me retract from some of the information because of how close to home it all is.

As a teenager, I had much difficulty with emotion regulation.  I’m torment by her words and actions of that year.  Her negative body image comments have me fearing everything related to the topic.  I can still feel the bullets of her malignant words she shot my way directly into my still developing brain.  And to her I can say this, “You don’t matter and you never did.  I’m succeeding despite what you did.”  And for you I have a surprise.  What if it’s simply calling you and confronting you about what was done?  This kind of discussion needs to be in public where we both feel safe and can speak openly.  It could be that simple. Would you listen and deny any wrong doing?  Either way a surprise there will be because every day I wake up I’m bruised inside and you are the only one who can heal that wound.  Wouldn’t that be a nice surprise?!  Maybe that’s the surprise I’m waiting to hear and hold on to.  Maybe the surprise is something different. Only I know.

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Every single day I choose to work on some type of behavior or action that most people take for granted.  As much as I would like to re-gift this “gift” of surviving apparently it was meant for me.  And I’ll carry this burden with the hopes that my own children don’t have to taste this type of life and that monsters are just pretend instead of real as I and many others know them.  Carrying the trauma of the boys that molested me, my teacher, my ex-husband and his brother, a trusted therapist will end with me.  I will either win or die trying because when it comes down to it it’s all about leaving everything you’ve got physically and mentally in the ring, on the field or on the court.  Whatever happens my wife and boys will know that I gave everything I had until I couldn’t.  I wasn’t coached to give up until I had left it all on the field and could feel proud of my efforts whenever that day comes.

Rocky Balboa talking to Adonis Creed before his first fight….

You’ve never been in front of this many people….that don’t matter.

You’ve never been this far away from home….that doesn’t matter either.

What matters is what you leave in the ring

And what you take back with you is……PRIDE.

And knowing that you did your best and you did it for yourself.

You didn’t do it for me; Not for your friend’s memory but for you.

I can see in your eyes you’re going to do it…..Go Do This Champ!

#thispuzzledlife

But I Still Made It To Texas

But….I Still Made It To Texas

“My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because

they are easy; you don’t make them because they are cheap; you don’t make them

because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right.”

Heodore Hesburgh

As I count down another 365 days in my life, I also look back on holiday traditions and 2018 as a year of struggles and lessons.  Yep, I’m too lazy to write separate blogs about Christmas and New Year’s.  Did you catch that or is it just me? Ha! Ha!  At this point, I’m just glad that I still have the ability and “want to” to write publicly about my struggles as an individual, family, therapeutically and as a system.  Honestly, my first thoughts about the year 2018 all revolve around my middle finger.

In January, I started my new path alone by moving to Texas.  The importance of this decision was realized only a couple of months prior.  Mel and the kids needed to live in a place that was familiar and where they could regain their own sense of balance and security that I could not help provide in my condition at that time.  And I needed answers and healing from my own demons and dark past.  Sometimes life gives you a way out but only for a limited amount of time.  Our life in New Mexico had finally come to an end complete with two little boys that make our hearts beat.  My mental health issues were becoming increasingly dangerous and the toll it had taken on Mel and the boys was almost irreparable damage.  If love was all that was needed to “fix” everything that had been damaged there wouldn’t have been a need to leave.  Mel and I both saw the need and the importance of me moving somewhere that answers could be found but only with the right practitioner.

I had set my sights on moving to Texas in 2016 but actually taking that step without Mel and the kids wouldn’t happen until January 2018.  This was a decision that kept tugging at my heart.  I knew it was the right decision but I didn’t have any way of proving that to make the decision easier to make as a couple.  It would be one of those Please don’t be the wrong decision! Please don’t be the wrong decision! moments that was so scary I couldn’t put into words.  She and I knew that without long term help of some kind I wouldn’t have a relationship with them anyway.  I was just dangerously out of control mentally.

armadillo  texas flag  longhorn

By March life would once again be full of new struggles.  My 2006 Honda Pilot that I brought with me on my new endeavors would be totaled in an accident.  Not knowing the extent of my injuries I would run to the vehicle that hit me to help the driver as I had done many times while working on an ambulance many years earlier.  Once the emergency vehicles showed up and I had returned to the opposing side of the highway where my own vehicle turned its last wheel the searing pain in my neck, back and legs would make its way into a form of uncomfortable permanence.  The days of having good medical insurance was left in the deserted high mesa of Albuquerque, New Mexico. And now I was just another American leaning on Medicare for help. I would also soon be driving an 18 year old black leather 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix that would come to be known simply as “The Hot Pocket.” Let the frustrations begin!

Learning who I was as an individual is still a process that I continue to learn about every single day.  But I was learning since moving here in January that I had a very large trigger that I had never even considered.  In Albuquerque we were left most times to fend for ourselves no matter where we looked for answers.  When I moved to Texas I was greeted with a large outpouring of love that most would welcome.  I, however, was terrified by all the help that was awaiting.  I honestly didn’t know and still don’t really know how to receive help without there being a price for it.  I suddenly became very triggered and left a stable living situation only to “couch hop” for the next few months until I looked up and I was homeless.  This would mean that I didn’t have the privacy and quiet that I longed and hungered for.  No one seemed to understand especially me.  Being in public and around people all the time seemed to make me feel like I was boiling in hot water.  No matter how hard I tried to accept this form of love and acceptance…I just couldn’t.

My mental health issues soon began to show the ugly faces that I had tried to warn other about and all I could think was “Damn, not here.  Not to these good people.”  But trying to wish them away wouldn’t happen in Texas anymore than it had worked in New Mexico.  I knew that this meant one thing….people would get hurt and relationships would be damaged and lost.  I couldn’t stop it.  I had seen it 100’s of times and nothing good ever came of it.  I just knew what it felt like when it was about to happen.  All I could hope for was that it wouldn’t be too bad because this time I was alone without Mel and the kids. I prepared my heart for the worst like I had many times.  This time would be no different as I would lose the relationships of those that I loved and admired without even trying.

Physically I felt completely beat down.  Mentally I was a hot mess and I now doubted whether this move was in fact the right thing to do.  The true reason that I moved here, to do therapy with my new coach seemed to be the only thing that still seemed right.  I leaned on the many years of lessons that I had learned from Sarah to help me make the decision again about staying in Texas when I wanted to run because it was the right thing to do….and again I stayed.  It wasn’t because I had faith that things would get better.  I stayed simply because I trusted her and that she never led me in a wrong direction while she was alive.

Therapeutically, I thought moving here and working with “coach” would be an easy thing to do since I was so incredibly excited to be given the chance.  I was excited and I knew without a doubt that my decision of working with “coach” was still the right decision.  But “easy” was never in the realm of reality.  I had a decorated therapeutic past and it didn’t seem to recognize good or bad practitioners.  It only recognized “practitioner” and “position of authority” both which scared me to death.  I constantly reminded myself that I already trusted her on some level because I moved here to work with her.  But instantly trusting even though I was confident in my decision just wasn’t going to happen.

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When I looked at my new life the only place that didn’t seem to bring some form of unwanted and unneeded pain was the hour that I spent with coach in session.  Most days the money it would require to afford food was always an unknown.   I was not willing to forego a therapy session because for that hour I felt safe even if I was shaking with fear for the time I was in there. I would be scared of possible topics I might have to discuss and I fear her position as a therapist but I didn’t fear her as a person and that meant everything to me.  I wanted to be heard and my pain validated and the only place that seemed to happen was when I was in a session because I wouldn’t dare open up to others.  Life is hard and society can careless how I feel about anything in the present time much less 40+ years of pain and abuse from my past….but she did and still does care.

Coach knows what she’s doing and I have to continue to trust her.  She knew that the only way that I would find comfort is through consistency and compassion.  I was sloppy seconds of a very abusive therapist but I was looking and hungering for the help that I so desperately needed.  And that my aggressive nature had to have a reason.  Before long her compassion began to melt my very tough exterior and tears would form and begin to drop from the years of abuse.  Except this time my tears brought about more compassion and validation where, at times, tears were seen as a weakness and more abuse seemed to follow.

August 1st started the “intensive” that she and I would have for a month.  That month did a lot for me regarding trusting coach and the therapeutic process as a whole.  Before this started, though, I vowed to be completely focus, “nose to the grind” and completely secluded.  This was no phone calls except immediate family and my coach and no social media except for blogs and remembering friends who have died. Sometimes solitude is all you need to help regain focus on things that are important.  Because in solitude you have no one to look at but yourself.  Apparently, this is just what I needed because the changes that have occurred within my system are some that I never dreamed possible for a teenager who was simply not heard.  The key to her was something along the lines of a forced hug (not literally) to show her that everyone isn’t the same. And allowing her a voice preferably not a screaming one.  Yes that teenager is indeed coachable when others have often thought incorrigible.

Fall time for me brings about some pretty horrible memories and anniversaries. At some point, coach responded to a question of mine “being thankful for what I do have” was the answer.  I’ve thought about that every since the day that was said.  This fall I would finally understand what she was saying. Now that It’s towards the end of December I can say that I put her phrase into practice by being thankful for what I do have this year despite all the struggles:

  1. I made it to Texas where I was met by an awesome group of people.
  2. I was involved in a wreck and injured but I wasn’t killed.
  3. I ended up back in the psych hospital 2 more times but it didn’t hurt anything but my pride.
  4. I ended up homeless but repaired the relationship with my parents.
  5. I had two surgeries because of my wreck but I’m still walking and talking.
  6. My time in Texas has been a struggle in every way. But….I Still Made It To Texas.
  7. I don’t get to see my boys very much but there is Facetime.
  8. I have several addictions that I struggle with but I’m still here struggling.
  9. I never get to see my wife.  She was able to be here several days for my surgery.
  10. I don’t get to spend holidays with my family.  Making the sacrifice to live in Texas without them helps to ensure I get to spend the rest of my life healthy and happy together as a family.
  11. I just embarrassed myself and my wife because I “flipped my wig” coming out of anesthesia.  What a great education in mental illness behaviors the hospital staff got from me free of charge not once but twice.
  12. Difficult decisions were made and tears were shed because it was the right thing to do.  Not the easiest thing to do.

I always think about the holidays when I was little and prior to our family’s matriarch, my Nannie’s death.  I can remember the smell of the air and the damp fall leaves, our family traditions and how much they still mean to me.  I remember my daddy’s Christmas morning breakfast and the year Sarah and Doug sat at our family’s table and had breakfast with us.  I also remember how much holidays scared me when I was married to my ex-husband.  The day time hours were fake happiness and gifts.  And the night times were criticisms about what I had managed to mess up and how dumb I was.  Don’t think for a second that he didn’t criticize my appearance on those days too.

Recently, Mel came to Texas because I had back surgery as a result of the wreck in March.  This was the first time she and I had spent any significant amount of time since I moved here.  The experience was a disaster for both of us at the hospital even with my limited memory. The embarrassment for me personally has been a lot to bare.  But the tears we both shed before her ride picked her up to take her back to the airport because we both love each other and miss being a family were the ones that were the heaviest.  I asked her again now that it’s been almost a year since moving here, “Do you think we made the right decision?”  We both agreed and said, “Yes.”  Moving here was the right decision but it didn’t guarantee things being easy and so far that has remained true.  This year has been one of many ups, downs, struggles and lessons…..BUT…….WE STILL MADE THE RIGHT DECISION TO MOVE TO TEXAS TO DO THERAPY…..AND WE MADE IT HAPPEN!!!!

#thispuzzledlife

What December 4th Means To Me…..

What December 4th Means To Me…..

” Today, on her birthday, I am teary eyed about the other woman

who also remembers that today, 43 years ago, she gave life

to a child that is calling me “Momma.”

—Unknown

I must admit that my birthdays for a long time have carried with them a dark cloud. As a child, I remembered them being like most kids’ birthdays. Cake, ice cream, presents and if you were lucky a party at McDonald’s complete with a tour to the store’s freezer just to find out that it was cold. A paper birthday hat and the playground equipment that was fun only in spring or fall seasons because you didn’t dare play on it in during the humid summers of the Deep South for fear of being burned alive by the stifling hot metal. The consequences of being a child playing on metal playground equipment would remind you that next time maybe you shouldn’t.

In my teen years, birthdays usually consisted of The Petal Lady Panther Basketball Classic. Softball season would’ve ended by now and we were well into our basketball season. There were plenty of local “social parties” complete with a bonfire, alcohol and loud country music. I was also busy trying to fill an emptiness in myself that I couldn’t identify. I just knew that emotionally I hurt. I began treating that hurt with any substance or behavior that seem to soothe that pain even a little bit. Little did I know that I was already in the death grip of addiction by the time I graduated high school. The combination of both the physical and mental stress of addiction for a mere 4 years would take the dream of playing college ball of any kind away.

As a late teen and early adulthood, I wouldn’t only see the dichotomy in a person’s behavior. I would often times feel the shift in his behavior before it actually happened. It was also on some of those same scary nights that my birthday December 4th would fall. Apparently, there was an unwritten rule about what men, specifically my ex-husband, were entitled to on any day but celebrations of any kind were a guarantee.

jesus and baby

This “emptiness” was now identified as a void. And the void was the one thing that has haunted me daily since middle school….my adoption. The abusers in my life have always made sure that this particular topic’s wounding got a little deeper with their ability to hurt without touching. Each year that passes it makes this time of the year just a little bit more painful. I’ve always seemed in some way to seek out the love and acceptance of my birth mom that I’ll never receive. She, unfortunately, does not have it to give to me to satisfy that insatiable need that never seems to be filled.

In the process of searching, finding and being rejected again and years of abuse I’ve pretty much walled my heart off to most people including close friends and family. Each year it gnaws away at me until the thought of getting close to someone scares me so bad that I reach out and destroy that relationship. Now In my 40’s I walk around with such a thick and, at times, aggressive coat of armor that I run off a lot of people before they get a chance to really know me past my silly sense of humor. Several people know that my birthday is off limits in regards to contacting me. Social media is turned off and my phone is put on “Do Not Disturb” making it virtually impossible to contact me unless you’re here in person. Very grumpy I can be on this the one of the heaviest days of grieving for me all year long.

Coach has the uncanny ability to get me to do  “therapeutic assignments” that can have me stomping around like a toddler who was given the wrong colored cup. I have the ability to act just like that when I think my unhealthy ideas are much better and/or more fun. This birthday would be different though. I had to be receptive to her ideas and be trusting enough in her as a person and as a professional for her guidance to be remotely acknowledged on this topic. And by the end of the day after coach stirred the fairy dust and a few of my own tears fell, for the first time in many years when the sun went down my smile didn’t. It was genuine happiness and…..well….it was different but it was nice.

I guess what made the day even more special was celebrating my birthday with our oldest son, Marshall who turned 7 years old yesterday. I never understood how my birth mom felt. I heard the painful words she said to me. But when I laid eyes on our beautiful first born, I’m glad that I don’t know what it’s like to be her. Because I have two beautiful little superhero, “man cub” children that call me Mom and I get to call them Sons.

I can still say with much assurance that the impact my adoption has had on my life has been tremendous in both good and bad ways. There are many tears left to cry on this topic. And much more emotional healing that needs to occur because coach does more than blows a whistle…..she plants seeds.

#thispuzzledlife

Tears Of A Child (Poetry)

The Tears of a Child

I came into this world screamin’ and cryin’

Never knowing that the world would be lyin’.

Big hands that touched with searing pain

And it would only be for their perverted gain.

 

Surrounded by four walls I would cry alone

Until she opened the door and I was already gone

Locked inside I screamed, “Don’t Leave!  Help me!”

But I would never be granted any reprieve.

 

A Child bride I would soon become

The tears I cried inside were many but to the outside there were none

I would defend you and say that life was grand

But you would crush me without even using your hands.

 

The venom you spewed I would also come to use

Innocent family and friends….If they only knew.

That little girl screaming for help and they didn’t have a clue.

That which the little girl is surviving might make her turn forever blue.

 

“Mommy! Mommy!” were the words she always longed to hear.

But the innocent screams rang so loud and clear.

She looked for the one that helped rescue her

But she was another one gone.

How does she handle it now in this world all alone?

 

She screams, “Mommy!  Mommy! ” from somewhere deep inside.

She was always taught to keep quiet and hide.

She also longs for the one that gave her life

But she’ll never meet those precious boys or her beautiful wife.

 

This child she’s full of anger and hates most things she sees.

The words they can’t hear are her hungering cries of “Help Me, Please!”

Please help me and don’t leave me alone.

But again she looks up to see they’re all gone.

 

She keeps those tears buried deep inside

Just like when she was taught to run and hide.

If they knew and could only see

These tears of a child that continue to haunt me.
By: Dana Landrum-Arnold

#thispuzzledlife